This week: Zuckerberg faces Capitol Hill grilling
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Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFacebook teaming with nonprofits to fight fake election news China may be copying Facebook to build an intelligence weapon Facebook announces verification to images and video on platform MORE is expected to make a media blitz this week as he crisscrosses the Capitol for hearings amid scrutiny of his company's handling of user data.

Zuckerberg is testifying at a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees on Tuesday, followed by a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old tech executive is expected to face tough questioning from lawmakers over how Facebook handles users’ data and questions about the improper gathering of the data of nearly 90 million users by a British firm.

“Our joint hearing will be a public conversation with the CEO of this powerful and influential company about his vision for addressing problems that have generated significant concern about Facebook’s role in our democracy, bad actors using the platform, and user privacy,” Senate Commerce Committee member John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneWant to improve health care? Get Americans off of their couches More Dems want focus on job creation than wage growth Google, Apple, Amazon execs to testify at Senate privacy hearing this month MORE (R-S.D.) said in a statement.


Lawmakers are expected to grill Zuckerberg over why Facebook let third parties collect data on its users without their express consent and why the company didn’t ensure that Cambridge Analytica — a firm used by the Trump campaign — deleted the improperly collected user data.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said late last week that the company has "different forms of opt-out” but doesn’t give users the option to completely opt out of having their data be used in targeted advertising.

"We don't have an opt-out at the highest level. That would be a paid product," Sandberg told NBC News on Thursday.

She added that while Facebook had received assurances that Cambridge Analytica deleted the data, “what we didn't do was the next step of an audit and we are trying to do that now."

It was previously estimated that the British research firm hired by the Trump campaign had improperly harvested data from about 50 million Facebook users, but new estimates last week revealed that about 87 million users had data taken.

More broadly, the company said most of its 2 billion users could have had their public data scraped by third parties.

“Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way,” said Mike Schroepfer Facebook's chief technology officer.

Ahead of his Capitol Hill appearances, Zuckerberg announced Friday that Facebook would start verifying advertisers who seek to run political ads on its platform, as well as requiring users who manage any large page to be verified.

Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE has indicted Russian individuals and entities over fake accounts used during the 2016 campaign to run political pages that garnered hundreds of thousands of followers and spread misinformation through posts and political ads.

Zuckerberg also announced support Friday for the Honest Ads Act, which would hold social media companies to the same political regulations as TV, print and radio outlets.

Balanced budget

The House is expected to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution just weeks after Congress passed a $1.3 trillion spending package that is projected to add billions to the deficit.

The amendment, introduced by House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), requires a "true majority" to pass tax increases and a three-fifths majority in both chambers to increase the debt limit.

"I commend the decision made by House leadership to bring H.J.Res. 2 to the floor for a vote. I challenge my colleagues in the House and Senate to do what is morally right and responsible by passing this amendment and sending it on to the states for ratification," Goodlatte said in a statement.

The measure has almost no chance of becoming law. It needs Democratic support in the Senate and ratification from the majority of states.

But Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls On The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Nancy Pelosi: Will she remain the ‘Face of the Franchise’? MORE (R-Wis.) agreed on a vote in exchange for conservative support on a procedural budget measure needed to move forward tax reform.

The tax bill is projected to add more than $1 trillion to the deficit, though Republicans argue economic growth will make up for the spending.

Republicans are facing backlash from their conservative base over last month’s omnibus spending bill, which Trump lambasted and threatened to veto before ultimately signing.

Trump and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Midterms to shake up top posts on House finance panel The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil MORE (R-Calif.) have mulled pushing for Congress to use an arcane budget maneuver to claw back spending from the $1.3 trillion bill.

The maneuver could pass the Senate by a simple majority because it is a privileged resolution. The Budget Act of 1974 allows for the process.


The Senate is poised to dig in on back to back nominations when they return from the two-week recess.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump hints at new executive action on immigration, wants filibuster-proof Senate majority The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump MORE (R-Ky.) set up a slate of nominations before lawmakers departed for the break: Claria Horn Boom to be a district judge, John Ring to be on the National Labor Relations Board, Patrick Pizzella to be deputy secretary of Labor, Andrew Wheeler to be deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and John Broomes and Rebecca Jennings to be district judges.

The Senate will kick off the voting marathon at 5:30 p.m. with an initial vote on Boom’s nomination.