Sen. Feinstein's Inaugural Tickets Resale Legislation Fails
Sen. Dianne Feinstein's legislation that would make the resale of inauguration tickets a federal crime died in the Senate last night when an effort to gain unanimous support for the measure failed, officials said.
Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, had hoped to ban the sale of the 240,000 tickets to President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony. Those tickets are being distributed free by congressional offices; Feinstein and others grew concerned by reports of tickets being offered on eBay and StubHub for thousands of dollars.
The legislation was supposed to be "hotlined" through the Senate, meaning it would be approved by unanimous consent. But several senators raised technical objections to the wording of the legislation and time ran out before the issues could be worked out, said Howard Gantman, staff director for the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.
"The fear was how it impacted other things, not directly related to the sale for profit of inaugural tickets," Gantman said.
The Senate has moved into a pro-forma session, during which it is difficult to get legislation approved. For now, it appears it remains legal to resell tickets.
Gantman noted that Feinstein was able to secure voluntary agreements from ebay and StubHub not to sell inauguration tickets.
Updated 9:41 p.m.: Gantman emailed to say: “Senator Feinstein plans to reintroduce the bill in the new Congress and seek expedited passage. The bill has been modified to allow the official Presidential Inaugural Committee to provide tickets to people who donate funds for producing the various inaugural festivities. This has been done by Presidential Inaugural Committees of both parties for years. What has not happened in previous inaugurals is the extent of ticket scalping at astronomical prices that is now occurring, spurred on by the huge demand and proliferation of internet sites. Senator Feinstein believes these sales need to be stopped.”
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