Just a little over two weeks after a federal court ruled against its recent reinterpretation of the 1961 Wire Act, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has suffered yet another potential blow. This is because Congress has taken a keen interest in fighting against the recently-published Wire Act opinion that was set to effectively culminate in the suspension of gambling activities across a number of states in the country. In fact, Congress has even gone as far as filing a bill that is proposing that no funds be made available to the DOJ in its attempt to redefine the scope of the Wire Act.
Filed by the Rules Committee, the new proposal or amendment has already received backers – Rep. Hank Johnson, the sponsor of the proposal, is joined by a decent number of noteworthy lawmakers including Rep. Andy Barr and Rep. Sanford Bishop. From the looks of things, this might just be a losing battle for the DOJ and part of this is caused by the increasing opposition that has been mounted against the Office of the Legal Counsel. Furthermore, the Rules Committee seems to have an upper hand in this fight since it is the body that is in charge of paying the DOJ’s salaries.
If history is anything to go by, Congress rarely beats around the bush which means that their stance on the DOJ’s recent Wire Act opinion has been made pretty clear.
“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to enforce the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel memorandum entitled ‘Reconsidering Whether the Wire Act Applies to Non-Sports Gambling’ (issued on November 2, 2018),” reads the opening section of the filing.
In other words, the Department of Justice will not be getting any funding to enforce their new opinion. To make matters even worse for the department, they have also recently suffered a huge loss in New Hampshire. Moreover, a number of other states with online gaming industries have openly expressed their opposition to the new opinion with the state lotteries being some of the most vocal. Putting all of these factors into consideration, the DOJ’s plans have been sent into complete disarray and one of the very limited options that it has left is to retreat.
The Rules Committee is set to meet on Tuesday, June 25 at 5 p.m. to consider the bill with the amendment in question being subject to a simple up-down vote. Unfortunately for the Department of Justice, this does not leave any room for any more discussion on the Wire Act. Needless to say, even though the amendment will not affect the scope of the law itself, it is going to effectively prevent the Department from enforcing its new opinion.