From NBC's CarrollAnn Mears
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced legislation that should be voted on this week to prohibit the sale and counterfeiting of tickets for the inaugural. She said inaugural tickets "are not issues of commerce."
"Excitement is at an all-time high," said Feinstein, chair of the Senate Rules Committee and as such is in charge of the Inauguration of the President. "People are desperate to be part of it."
She also said there could be "as many as 1.5 million people descend on the capital."
The legislation would treat the selling of tickets for the Obama inaugural as a Class A misdemeanor with a fine and/or imprisonment for up to a year. Tickets to the inaugural are not yet available.
The legislation is intended at stopping those "who try to dupe the public," Feinstein said. She added that "the chance to witness [the inaugural] ... should not be bought and sold like tickets to a football game. This is not a football game."
Of course, scalping tickets to football games is also illegal.
Feinstein said tickets -- which again are not even yet available -- are being offered on the Internet from $5,000 to as high as $45,000 apiece. There are as many as 15 to 20 Internet sites "selling" tickets they do not have.
"I find it unconscionable," Feinstein said. "Tickets are supposed to be free to people" who worked on the election, for African-American community, for people all across the country. "They are free, and they should stay that way."
Feinstin added they must make sure the inaugural has the "dignity it deserves." She told her fellow senators that she is working to see if there is any way the Senate can secure more tickets.
Feinstin also thanked eBay for announcing that no Inaugural tickets will be sold on its Web site.