In a step that may ensure Senate Republican opposition will sink controversial legislation targeting foreign websites that offer pirated content, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Thursday called for Democrats to shelve the bill before a scheduled Tuesday cloture vote on the measure.
“While we must combat the on-line theft of intellectual property, current proposals in Congress raise serious legal, policy and operational concerns,” McConnell said in a statement. “Rather than prematurely bringing the Protect IP Act to the Senate floor, we should first study and resolve the serious issues with this legislation.”
McConnell urged Senate Democrats “to reconsider [their] decision to proceed to this bill.”
The measure, which won unanimous bipartisan backing in a Senate Judiciary Committee vote last year, has hemorrhaged support in the face of a public campaign by Internet companies concerned the bill will expose them to lawsuits for linking to pirated content. Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., is working with Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., a senior Judiciary member, on a compromise amendment intended to address critics’ concerns.
But McConnell’s opposition suggests Republicans will uniformly oppose the cloture on Tuesday, which will ensure defeat of the bill. Many Senate Democrats have also announced opposition but have not said if they will oppose moving forward with the bill.