GOP chairman says repeal of tech shield not in defense bill despite Trump veto threat

Bonnie Cash

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said Wednesday that a mammoth defense policy bill that is being finalized does not include the repeal of a liability shield for internet companies, despite President Trump’s veto threat.

“First of all 230 has nothing to do with the military. And I agree with his sentiments we ought to do away with 230 but you can’t do it in this bill. That’s not a part of the bill,” Inhofe told reporters, referring to Section 230, which gives tech companies protections for third-party content posted on their platforms and allows them to make “good faith” efforts to moderate content. 

Inhofe added that he had conveyed that to the president.

Pressed on what the president’s reaction was Inhofe demurred but added that Trump “doesn’t like 230 and I don’t like 230.”

Inhofe’s remarks come roughly 12 hours after Trump threatened to veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) if a repeal of Section 230 wasn’t included. 

“Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to ‘Big Tech’ (the only companies in America that have it – corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand,” Trump tweeted. 

“Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!” Trump added.

Trump’s veto threat is the second he’s made against the NDAA. He also threatened to veto the final bill if it included language requiring Confederate-named bases to be renamed but Inhofe said Wednesday that Trump had backed down from that fight.

The White House previously floated that it could drop its objection on the base issue if a repeal of Section 230 was included.

Trump and his allies have homed in on Section 230 as they’ve ramped up criticism against Facebook and Twitter for what they see as the censorship of conservative views.

The Senate voted on Wednesday morning to go to conference on the NDAA with the House, which passed its own bill earlier this year. But top negotiators have been working behind the scenes for months and are expected to sign off on the final bill as soon as Wednesday.

Neither the initial House nor Senate bills included a repeal of Section 230. Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Inhofe’s House counterpart, also indicated that Trump’s push to include a repeal in the defense bill was not going to happen. 

“To be clear, Mr. President, Section 230 repeal wasn’t included in the House OR Senate version of the NDAA. You’re mad at Twitter. We all know it. You’re willing to veto the defense bill over something that has everything to do with your ego, and nothing to do with defense,” Smith tweeted on Wednesday.

Tags Adam Smith Donald Trump James Inhofe
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