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Senate switches plans for culture committee

Taskforce still created, but with less power

WASHINGTON — The Senate has reached an agreement to scuttle its planned special Committee on American Culture in favor of a much less powerful panel that will not have subpoena power.

A spokesman for Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) confirmed Thursday that an agreement had been reached to create a taskforce, but final details are still being hammered out. Senators are still trying to nail down the scope of the body, which the entertainment industry is concerned will use movies, television and film as a scapegoat for school violence.

Brownback, with the help of Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and other conservative Republicans, had hoped to create the special committee within the next few weeks. But Democrats sank the plan, fearful that the committee would become a forum for conservative critics of popular culture. Republicans backed down only after Democrats insisted that guns be included in the special committee’s portfolio.

Brownback spokesman Eric Hotmire said a final vote on the taskforce could come as early as next week. One possible name for the body, which will include an equal number of Democrats and Republicans, is the Taskforce on the State of American Society, said Hotmire.