A key House vote on controversial anti-piracy legislation has been delayed.
The House Judiciary Committee adjourned on Friday without deciding on whether or not to send the so-called Stop Online Piracy Act to the House floor.
The committee had been engaged in a marathon markup version of the bill, but the session came to an abrupt end, as Congress had to turn its attention to a floor vote on a nearly $1 trillion spending bill that would avert a government shutdown.
The discussion will resume when Congress is next in session – which could be next week.
The law, along with its Senate sister, the Protect IP Act, are both championed by the recording and film industries. They both seek to combat online piracy by giving the Justice Department authority to block offshore “rogue” websites that engage in the illicit sale of everything from pirated films to bogus pharmaceuticals.
The act would give federal authorities new power to block service providers, search engines, payment processors, and advertising networks it considers to be facilitating illegal on-line activity, such as streaming pirated television programs, films or selling pharmaceuticals.
However, the legislation has been fiercely opposed by a coalition of high-tech companies such as Google, Yahoo, PayPal, Twitter and eBay, who have charged that the effort to crack down on illegal downloads are too far-reaching and akin to censorship.
In a feisty statement, Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) expressed optimism that the bill will pass once congress is in session.
“The criticism of this bill is completely hypothetical; none of it is based in reality," Smith said. "Not one of the critics was able to point to any language in the bill that would in any way harm the Internet. Their accusations are simply not supported by any facts."
Friday's committee session adjourned after considering 25 amendments to the bill.