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Dems slow cultural inquiry

Brownback's Task Force stuck on gun violence issue

WASHINGTON — Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) is having a tough time finding support for his special Senate inquiry on American culture.

“It’s not moving forward,” said Brownback spokesman Erik Hotmire of the effort to create a Senate forum to raise questions about “violent and vulgar” entertainment and other issues related to family values.

Democrats have worked hard against Brownback’s effort, particularly the first version of the proposal that would have created a special Senate Committee on American Culture, which would have enjoyed broad powers, including the ability to subpoena documents and witnesses. A subsequent compromise proposal has watered down that panel to a weaker body, the Task Force on the State of American Society. Insiders point out that the new name does not allude to a cultural inquiry.

So far, Democrats have succeeded in slowing down, if not completely derailing, Brownback’s efforts by insisting that guns be included in any inquiry.

Hotmire confirmed Monday that Democrats’ insistence that the inquiry examine gun violence created a “hang-up” for Brownback. Although Brownback believes gun issues should be discussed, the Kansas Republican does not believe it should be a primary focus.

Among those leading the charge for the Democrats is Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) demanding that gun issues be included in the panel’s portfolio. Boxer threatened to raise the issue on the Senate floor if Brownback proceeded without addressing gun violence.

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