House Republicans this week pushed through a bill designed to stop federal bureaucrats from actively blocking free speech or advocating that a third-party do so.
The Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act,” introduced by Kentucky Republican Rep. James Comer, passed on a 219-206 party-line vote.
Comer said the bill is intended to expand the Hatch Act, the federal law that prohibits government employees from engaging in overt political activities while in their official capacity.
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The congressman said his bill would stop those same federal employees from censoring lawful speech by using their official authority or government resources to “influence or coerce” social media companies to remove, suppress, restrict, or add disclaimers or alerts to any speech those government workers object to
Comer said the one exception is for “legitimate” law enforcement activities.
“The Biden Administration has eroded Americans’ First Amendment rights by bullying social media companies to censor certain views and news on their platforms,” Comer said in a statement.
“Biden Administration officials are quick to label inconvenient facts as disinformation and then pressure social media companies to suppress content on their platforms. To protect the First Amendment, the Protect Speech from Government Interference Act stops federal employees from pressuring social media companies to silence Americans expressing views online. The Senate must take up this legislation to get this bill to the finish line.”
Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz was among those who applauded the bill’s passage.
Gaetz explained his support for Comer’s bill in a message to constituents on Friday.
“The people of our country have a right to speak freely and openly express ideas without having to worry about their own government attempting to censor them. The release of the Twitter files exposed federal officials actively working to suppress the free speech of Americans,” Gaetz noted.
“Open dialogue and free speech are what Democrats fear most. They’d rather cancel anyone who doesn’t blindly follow the liberal agenda. I will continue to put America First while battling the woke agenda that tries to suffocate free speech that doesn’t fit their narrative.”
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