On Tuesday, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee shot down multiple proposed amendments by Democrats on the committee that would have weakened a bill which aims to curb federal coercion of social media platforms.
As reported by Just The News, Republicans argued that the attempted amendments to HR 140, The Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act, amends the Hatch Act by prohibiting any government agency’s use of “official authority” to pressure any “interactive computer service” into censoring “lawful speech.”
The bill would implement steeper penalties for any federal employees who attempt to coerce social media platforms into censorship, including termination and a five-year ban on serving in federal government again. The bill was later amended by Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) to include exceptions for government action to be taken in the event of criminal activity, such as child pornography, human trafficking, and drug trafficking, as well as the protection of “properly classified national security information.”
Democrats on the committee have baselessly attacked the bill as allegedly promoting “disinformation” on social media, with ranking member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) mockingly calling the bill the “Putin Protection Act.” Raskin said that the bill would empower “election deniers” and “COVID deniers,” among others.
Other Democrats subsequently tried to introduce amendments that would have offered additional exceptions for government interference, including “national security,” “scientific or technical information,” and “incitement of violence, specifically from neo-Nazi groups.” Raskin further attempted to expand the scope of the bill by including traditional mass media in addition to social media, claiming that “politicians try to get the media to do their will all the time.”
All of these amendments were rejected, on the basis that their use of broad and loosely-defined terms would weaken the original purpose of the bil, and only guarantee more censorship rather than less.