(The Center Square) – The GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that prohibits federal bureaucrats from using their influence to censor speech or pressure social media companies to censor speech.
The Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act passed on a 219-206 vote. It broke along party lines according to The Hill and is seen as unlikely to advance in the Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate.
Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers introduced the legislation with fellow Republicans James Comer (Kentucky) and Jim Jordan (Ohio).
“President Joe Biden and his administration have become the party of censorship,” charged McMorris Rodgers in a news release. “They’re actively silencing American voices in order to control the narrative to benefit their political agenda—we have the receipts.”
“House Energy and Commerce Republicans have condemned these censorship efforts again and again” said the congresswoman, who chairs that committee, “and I’m pleased to join Representatives Comer and Jordan in passing this legislation to protect Americans’ first amendment rights from federal employees seeking to abuse their power and control the battle of ideas. We will not allow this administration to be the arbiters of truth online.”
The bill was passed by the House after House Republicans sent a notice Dec. 23 to the FBI asking for records on the FBI’s efforts to influence social media sites to censor content such as the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden, the president’s son.
The so-called Twitter Files were released to selected journalists by Twitter owner Elon Musk in December that had documents showing the FBI’s involvement with Twitter.
The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee December media release noted a nearly $3.5 million payment by the FBI to Twitter “for time spent process law enforcement requests around the 2020 election.”
“These documents show that the FBI maintained this relationship with Twitter apart from any particularized need for a specific investigation, but as a permanent and ongoing surveillance operation,” Jordan, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, stated in a December statement. “These revelations sadly reinforce our deep concerns about the FBI’s misconduct and its hostility to the First Amendment.”