Friends and Colleagues:
Over the past three weeks, the election has been the focus of the national media and members of Congress have been back in their home districts on recess. But, we are still seeing action on H.R. 7640, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act.
Congressional support continues to grow
In October and November, 13 representatives from six states added their names to the list of cosponsors, bringing the total to 78. Check the list here to see if your representative is among the cosponsors. America's Newspapers is asking members to continue reaching out to their legislators to ask them for their support of this important bill and we are seeing support for the tenets of this legislation continue to grow. Legislators know the value of a free press and they want to help.
Big stimulus package isn’t coming soon
So far, leadership in the Senate has indicated that they are not in favor of a big stimulus measure. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby made it clear last week (November 16) that a big stimulus package isn’t coming soon.
“We’re not going to pass a gigantic measure right now — and the question is: Will we pass it later? Doubtful,” he said, just a few hours after President-Elect Biden asked lawmakers to pass a bill like the $2.4 trillion measure passed by the Democratic-led House before the election. Until the House and Senate are on the same page, it is likely that there won’t be any relief measures passed, minimizing the chances of H.R. 7640 moving forward.
While we would like to see immediate relief and we know it is needed, we also know that it may take some time before a new stimulus package will pass both the Senate and the House. The 117th Congress begins January 3, 2021, and we don’t expect much to happen before then.
Continue to elevate the issue
Francis Wick, CEO of Wick Communications and a member of our Legal Affairs and Lobbying Committee, was instrumental in working with representatives to get the initial bill filed and to build support for the legislation. Wick said that “the support and advancement of H.R. 7640 has been nothing less than inspiring — to see journalism and lawmakers acknowledge the need to support local factual news. As we enter 2021, our bill will be reintroduced into the 117th United States Congress, and — as advocates of this effort — we must continue to elevate this issue with local representatives whether they have signed on as cosponsors or not.”
Next Steps: Ask your representative to cosponsor
We’re likely not going to see any stimulus package move before January, but it is important that we continue to build support for H.R. 7640. The three tenets of the bill are all important:
As we continue to pursue passage of this important bill, it is also possible that one or more of the tenets of this bill could be included in other bills that gain traction. Therefore, it continues to be important for members of America’s Newspapers to contact their representatives to ask for their support as a cosponsor of H.R. 7640.
Bipartisan support of this legislation is critical and gaining additional Republican cosponsors is especially important. There isn’t a companion bill in the Senate, so at this time we’re focusing on the House. When there is an opportunity in the Senate, we will be back asking for our members' help again.
Thank you for standing with us in support of our industry!