Trump doubles down on Section 230 repeal after GOP pushback
President Trump 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.”
Looks like certain Republican Senators are getting cold feet with respect to the termination of Big Tech’s Section 230, a National Security and Election Integrity MUST. For years, all talk, no action. Termination must be put in Defense Bill!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2020
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.
“230 has nothing to do with the military,” said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (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 Rounds (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 Hawley (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 Graham (R-S.C.) said he was supportive of Trump “using all the leverage he can” to reform the tech protection.
Outgoing Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has also said she “fully” backs Trump on his veto threat, tweeting, “please don’t back down.”
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) December 3, 2020
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 Thune (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.”
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