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Trump doubles down on Section 230 repeal after GOP pushback

President TrumpDonald TrumpSchumer: Impeachment trial will be quick, doesn't need a lot of witnesses Nurse to be tapped by Biden as acting surgeon general: report Schumer calls for Biden to declare climate emergency MORE doubled down Thursday on his calls for Republicans to include the repeal of a legal protection for tech companies in a must-pass defense policy bill after many in the GOP pushed back on tying the two issues together.

In a tweet, Trump recognized the Republican criticism of his proposal but said repealing Section 230, a provision that protects tech firms from liability over third-party content on their platforms, is a “MUST.”

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Trump has railed against social media platforms throughout his tenure over unsubstantiated claims that companies such as Twitter and Facebook are unfairly censoring conservative content. He views a repeal of Section 230 as prime way of hitting back at the firms, and his criticism has ramped up in recent weeks as the platforms flag his posts featuring unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud in the presidential race.

The president first demanded that Republicans tie a Section 230 repeal with the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) earlier this week, warning to veto the annual legislation if a repeal is not included. He had previously threatened to repeal the bill over a provision mandating that the Pentagon rename Confederate-named military bases.

His calls appeared to fall on mostly deaf ears this week in Congress, however, as several Republicans said they’d already reached a deal with Democrats on language for the NDAA and that a provision regarding Section 230 did not belong in the defense bill.

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“230 has nothing to do with the military," said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage Senate confirms Austin to lead Pentagon under Biden Justice Dept. closes insider trading case against Burr without charges MORE (R-Okla.). "I agree with his sentiments ... but you can’t do it in this bill. That’s not a part of the bill."

"I would hope that he would not actually follow through with that because the NDAA is critical," Sen. Mike RoundsMike RoundsThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden: Focus on vaccine, virus, travel Senators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Biden agenda, Trump impeachment trial dominate MORE (R-S.D.) said regarding Trump’s veto threat over Section 230.

Congressional negotiators began signing a compromise bill between the House and Senate versions, known as a conference report, Wednesday evening without any language on Section 230, a House aide confirmed to The Hill.

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTo 'lower the temperature' raise commitments to federalism Leahy, not Roberts, to preside over impeachment trial Beto O'Rourke: Ted Cruz 'guilty of sedition' in Capitol insurrection MORE (R-Mo.), meanwhile, has said he “cannot support” the NDAA because it doesn’t contain Section 230 reforms but does contain language regarding the Confederate-named bases, and Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial Trump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial Democrats formally elect Harrison as new DNC chair MORE (R-S.C.) said he was supportive of Trump “using all the leverage he can” to reform the tech protection.

Outgoing Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardTulsi Gabbard blasts new House rules on gender neutral language as 'height of hypocrisy' A vaccine, a Burrito and more: 7 lighter, memorable moments from 2020 Growing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting MORE (D-Hawaii) has also said she “fully” backs Trump on his veto threat, tweeting, “please don’t back down.” 

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However, those voices of support appear to be in the minority, with Republicans in Senate leadership noting that the NDAA must be passed.

"I don't think the defense bill is the place to litigate that," Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump, allies raise pressure on Senate GOP ahead of impeachment The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Senate chaos threatens to slow Biden's agenda MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said. "There will be enormous support for getting the defense authorization bill passed and hopefully signed into law."