NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
EXCLUSIVE: Three top Republicans are pushing new legislation that would expand the Hatch Act in order to stop Biden administration officials from using their official positions of power to influence social media companies’ censorship of speech.
House Oversight Committee Ranking Member James Comer, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan, and House Committee on Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers are the authors of the “Protecting Free Speech from Government Interference Act.”
The proposed bill would expand the Hatch Act, a law that keeps federal employees from engaging in political activities while working in their official capacities. It would make any form of censorship by a federal government official “an illegal federal personnel activity subject to disciplinary action,” and it would extend restrictions to “senior federal officials,” including political appointees, from engaging in censorship in their personal capacities as well.
The lawmakers point to a few recent examples they say are evidence of Biden administration officials using their positions to influence and censor speech on large social media platforms.
Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a July 2021 press briefing that once users are banned from one social media platform for spreading coronavirus “misinformation,” they should be expelled from all others as well.
“We’re flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation. We’re working with doctors and medical experts…who are popular with their audience with accurate information,” she said at the time. “So, we’re helping get trusted content out there.”
Additionally, Psaki said in February that the White House wants “more” done by Big Tech companies to suppress “misinformation” on their platforms.
Separately, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently admitted that his company censored news articles about the president’s son Hunter after the FBI reached out ahead of the 2020 election.
As a result, Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., called on Facebook this week to turn over communications between government agencies and Facebook employees regarding Hunter Biden.
“The Biden Administration is using the heavy hand of government to pressure social media companies into censoring Americans’ free speech and news shared on their platforms,” Comer, R-Ky., told Fox News Digital.
“From COVID-19 to Hunter Biden, Biden Administration officials are quick to label facts that don’t fit their narrative as disinformation and then pressure social media companies to suppress content on their platforms. This threatens Americans’ First Amendment rights. To protect freedom of speech, our bill stops the Swamp from pressuring social media companies to silence ordinary Americans,” Comer continued.
“Big Tech platforms have become the modern town square, and any effort to erase people from these digital spaces simply for not adhering to the woke liberal agenda is unconstitutional,” McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., added.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and David Rutz contributed to this report.