The move to adopt a federal reporter shield law failed a vital test vote this week as politics created gridlock in the Senate chamber. Majority Leader Reid, acting on a promise from earlier this month, moved to commence debate on the shield law, seeking a final vote on the measure before the Senate left D.C. for its annual August recess. The Republicans, however, objected to debating the shield law, preferring instead to continue debate on an energy package that they hoped would include language that would relax bans on oil drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge and the Outer Continental Shelf. Majority Leader Reid called for a vote to break the filibuster, but fell nine senators short of the 60 he needed to force debate on the shield law. A copy of the roll call for the vote is available here.
The future of the shield law in the 110th Congress is unclear at this time. Majority Leader Reid may attempt to return to the bill when the Senate renews legislative action in September, if he can resolve the Republicans' issues with the pending energy package. He has planned an ambitious schedule for the Senate in September, though, particularly given that this is an election year and expectations are that the Senate will cease legislative action for the year during the last week of the month. It is probable that the question of a federal reporter shield law will be revisited in the 111th Congress.