House Republicans are pushing for new legislation that would punish federal employees and bureaucrats who use their authority to promote censorship of speech or pressure tech companies to censor speech.
The bill (pdf) named “Protecting Speech from Government Interference Act,” authored by three top Republicans, aims at preventing federal employees’ ability to violate free speech by creating new penalties and adding disciplinary actions for those who encourage censorship.
Penalties include similar measures to those of an already existing policy named the Hatch Act—a law that limits certain political activities of federal employees.
According to the proposed bill’s authors, penalties and disciplinary actions may include removal or debarment from federal employment, reduction in pay grade, or civil monetary penalties.
“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,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), top ranking member of the House Oversight Committee and one of the bill’s authors, said in a statement.
Ranking member Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) speaks at a hearing with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington on Nov. 16, 2021. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
“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,” he continued. “This threatens Americans’ First Amendment rights.”
Other authors of the bill are House Judiciary Committee ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and House Committee on Energy and Commerce ranking member Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). The top-ranking officials shared several examples of White House officials using their position of power in what they claim censored Americans’ speech on social media platforms.
One example they shared happened in July