By Kevin Erickson, Communications Associate, and Maria-Teresa Roca de Togores, Policy Intern
This week’s midterm elections have come and gone, and while turnout was low (as is often the case in midterms), the resulting shift in the balance of power may impact what music-related issues are on the congressional agenda for the next two years.
While Republicans will take control of the Senate and widen their majority in the House when the new Congress is sworn in this January, it the impacts will be felt on some issues more than others. Copyright issues, in particular, don’t tend to break down cleanly along partisan lines; members of the same party often have had widely different views, as we’ve seen through the Copyright Review process over the past two years. (Check out our Copyright Review Timeline for the story so far.)
So what’s next? Congress is usually in session from January 3rd to December, but during the years, those times at which there is no business—like the days of the week when Congress is usually not in session, national holidays, or August breaks—are times of recess. Congress also recesses during midterm elections, and this year, they took an extra-long break starting on Sept 19 to leave extra time for campaigning. So, as legislators return to Washington to finish out the congressional term, there’s a pretty full docket of music-related proposals that they could choose to pick up. And, it’s likely that some of these may be reintroduced in the next Congress, so it’s a good time to familiarize yourself with the whole range of possible congressional moves.
To that end, we’ve created a comprehensive legislation tracker to help you keep tabs of all currently active bills and resolutions winding their way through the legislative process. We’ve spelled out what each bill does, some of its key supporters and opponents, a summary of our analysis, and some places you can get more information. Our hope is that this will give musicians, composers, music fans, and their allies some helpful context to understand what’s happening in Congress and come to their own conclusions. We firmly believe that policymakers can best do their jobs when they consider the diverse perspectives of the music community.
Note that there are a couple of items you won’t see on our list. We’ve left out resolutions honoring specific musicians (e.g. a recent effort to honor the late Chuck Brown). It’s not because these musicians aren’t entirely deserving of congressional recognition, but because such honorary resolutions come up with great frequency when representatives want to officially recognize someone from their district, yet they almost never come up for a vote. (We’ve also left “SOPA 2014” off the list, because despite what you might have read, it doesn’t exist.)
Image via Shutterstock.