tv U.S. House of Representatives Debate on Protecting Free Speech on Social... CSPAN March 9, 2023 4:27am-5:20am EST
time as i may consume. i rise in support of h.r. 140, the protecting speech from government interference act. this legislation is clearly needed. during the oversight and accountability february 8 hearing on protecting speech from government interference and social media bias, the committee learned how the federal government influences a private company to do and limit the free exercise of speech.
we heard hours of witness testimony that revealed the extent to which federal employees have repeatedly and consistently to censor and suppress the lawful speech of americans. the hearing exposed how much the biden administration attempted to normalize the policy. the biden administration have publicly called upon and privately coordinated private social media companies to ban specific accounts as politically inconvenient. during our hearing, one of our witnesses, a former f.b.i. official called for federal legislation that would reasonably and effectively limit government interactions with private sector platforms. i agree with him. it is inappropriate and dangerous for the federal government to decide what lawful speech is allowed on a private sector platform. my bill, the protecting speech from government interference act
makes this type of behavior and unlawful activity for federal officials to engage in subjecting those to disciplinary actions and monetary penalties. the federal government should not be able to decide what lawful speech is allowed. we have the first amendment for a very good reason. federal officials, no matter rank or resources must be prohibited to coerce the private sector to suppress certain information or limb the ability of citizens to freely express their own views on a private sector internet platform. general psaki shouldn't have called for facebook to ban specific accounts or types of speech from its platform. that wasn't the use of resources of a senior executive branch
official. federal employees should not feel empowered to infringe by pressuring them to complicate or change their content modernization policies. if the biden administration needs to express its policy positions for political purposes, it has immense resources for which to engage in the public square and offer its information and arguments. if the administration feels it is losing the policy argument and the public's confidence to stronger voices, the answer should never be to deploy and limit the speech of others. the legislation before us today expands the current federal employee political activity limitations of the hatch act to include a prohibition of federal employees using their official authority to influence or coerce an internet platform to censor
lawful speech, this is prohibition on actions that would result in a private sector platform restricting or adding disclaimers or alerts posted on a platform by a person or entity. whether a person or accomplished media organization, humans have the right to share their views and opinions without uncle sam putting its thumb on the scale to tilt the debate in one direction. the first amendment protects us from government sensorship and officials who use their influence and resources to censor lawful speech. the only thing that is changed is that the public square has moved online with powerful new communication tools. we are discussing this legislation today because americans know something is wrong and asked congress to fix it. this bill is a targeted first
step to address one clear part of the problem that federal officials in the u.s. government view it as their role to sensor the speech of americans. i urge all my colleagues to support this very necessary legislation and reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. golden: -- mr. goldman: i agree it's a great idea. it is such a good idea that the founding fathers put it in the constitution and called the first amendment. we don't need a new bill to protect free speech because that is currently the law of the land. we must ask ourselves what is the point of this bill? as our esteemed ranking member observed last night, putin and
president x don't make a habit of watching congressional proceedings but we are willing to debate this floor debate is of keen interests of russian and chinese agents to serve their agents. h.r. 140 would allow these and other foreign maligned actors who have powered hundreds of millions of dollars into onalone propaganda to create mistrust, hate and confusion for americans to continue using social media platforms unfeathered to wreak havoc on our democratic institutions including the integrity of our elections. it would undermine the only defense that we have against these operations which is the ability of our national security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies to warn social media platforms about
the -- and the public about the deployment of counterfeit accounts, disinformation and cyber surveillance by maligned actors. now, i have no doubt that my republican colleagues will claim that of course all of our national security apparatus is able to warn social media companies of foreign interference, but the way that this bill is written is that they would -- even if that's the case, which it is not, they would have to wait 72 hours in order to do that, 72 hours on the internet is a lifetime. everything they would want to accomplish would be accomplished within 72 hours. now, there are exceptions to that. and so clearly my republican colleagues recognize that there needs to be exceptions, but those exceptions cover a very,
very narrow window, a narrow scope of child pornography, humor drug trafficking or the dissemination of classified information. so anything else that might not be lawful speech still has to wait 72 hours, far too long. now, democrats acted in good faith to correct and identify these loopholes in our community but all of our amendments were voted down. our republican and democratic colleagues attempted to address the dangerous flaws of this bill by submitting 64 amendments for floor consideration, but republicans only allowed 10 to be considered here today and one, one was offered by a democrat. so much for all the open floor rules that our republicans have talked about. now, in fairness, republicans
accepted multiple minor amendments that were submitted late and yet still rejected many of the timely amendments. now some of those democratic amendments would have cured the obvious weaknesses and loopholes of this unnecessary bill. there was one amendment that would allow our intelligence community, national security apparatus and law enforcement to inform social media companies of national security threats. another would allow them to inform the social media companies in order to combat domestic and international terrorism. another one would have address targeted seniors and safety children online, another preventing attacks on the u.s. capitol. one would have even prevented the incitement of violence by
neo-nazis and other hate groups. they were voted down. they blocked a bipartisan amendment offered by congresswoman houlahan and congresswoman mace that law enforcement can still act immediately to prevent sexual assault. by rejecting these amendments republicans have made it clear that this bill is not about protecting the rights and safety of all americans. in fact, even though there is no evidence -- and i'll get to that in a minute -- that warrants this bill, there is plenty of evidence that russia interfered in our elections in 2016. now what this bill does is it welcomes the same kind of election interference that we know russia did in 2016 and that they continue to do today. just like donald trump sided with vladimir putin over our
intelligence communities in helskinki in 2018, this bill and the republicans who are sponsoring this bill are siding with russia and vladimir putin over our national security apparatus and our law enforcement. my republican colleagues claim they put this bill because somehow the f.b.i. colluded with twitter to suppress the story on hunter biden, 24 hours, three weeks before the election. a private business decision based on the available information and had no impact on the availability of the article nor the outcome of the election. the chairman of this committee just said that -- referenced a hearing we had that there were hours of testimony about
sensorship. the only testimony that i witnessed about sensorship was former president trump trying to take down tweets that he did not like on twitter. there was no evidence, none at all, that the f.b.i. or other law enforcement agencies directed twitter to take down any unlawful speech, and that includes the hunter biden laptop story. we can spend some time, we don't need to why that story was both highly suspicious and also glaringly false, but the broader point is, this is a bill that seeks a solution where there is no problem. there is no protected speech that has been prohibited by the federal government and there is no actual evidence of any censorship under the first amendment. so we are basically changing the
law enforcement to redefine censorship and in doing so, we would be opening up the floodgates for unprotected speech to be distributed online because the government officials who are charged with making sure that our laws are not violated and crimes are not committed, will be handcuffed and unable to do their jobs for fear they will be fined thousands of dollars if they are wrong. i urge all my colleagues to stand with free speech and american democracy and oppose this dangerous bill. and i reserve. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from kentucky is recognized. mr. comer: i yield three minutes to the gom -- gentlewoman from colorado three minutes. mrs.boebert: free speech is under attack here in america. the free united states of america. putin is a thug.
yes. china is a threat. but nothing, and i mean nothing will bring america to its knees like the removal of our free speech. the cornstone for our constitutional republic. america without free speech is like a phone without a charger. only a matter of time before it is only a matter of time before it dies. attacks on free speech should not be seen with a partisan lens. any attack on free speech is an attack on every american who gave their life so that you and i could live freely. so that you and i could express our thoughts, beliefs and opinions without fear of retribution or persecution. mr. chairman, the sad reality is the biden administration has decided to collude with big tech to silence the voice of the american people under the guise
of misinformation. we saw in our committee hearings, there was demonstrated, that the f.b.i. colluded with big tech to silence americans' free speech. and the gentleman from new york says, well it's russia and china who are going to interfere with our elections. no, no. democrats are doing just fine on that their own when they have the federal government working for them and their agenda to push that forward and silence americans' frith speech, they're doing just fine with election interference. we have seen the polls that said if americans knew about the hunter biden laptop from hell the election outcome would have been different and y'all wanted that silenced. so greatly. so now let me ask you, without this, we certainly have the constitution, would love to get my colleagues on the other side of the aisle a copy but who decides what is true or false? i certainly don't trust the federal government to make that
distinction. they were wrong about the hunter biden laptop. they were wrong about the vaccine mandates, about masks, about the wuhan lab leak. wrong about shutting down churches and schools and businesses and they're dead wrong to use their positions to attack americans' free speech. for the current resident of 1600 pennsylvania avenue, the only thing harder than climbing a flight of stairs, riding a bicycle, reading a teleprompter seems to be telling the truth. free speech isn't just for kind speech. or true speech. or widely accepted speech. it is for all speech. and it is worth fighting for and i want to thank my friend and colleague and chairman of the oversight and accountability committee, mr. comer, for his work to preserve free speech in america. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: members are reminded to refrain from engaging in personalities toward
the president. the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. goldman: i would like to respond briefly. there's always this talk about collusion between the biden administration and the f.b.i. and twitter. and you can say it as many times as you want to say it and it's still -- and it still doesn't make it so because there's no evidence of that. and in this country, we rely on facts and evidence. we done just rely on concl usory allegations, including fake polls that don't say what you're trying to say. i yield four minutes to the gentleman from ohio, mr. lands mut. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from ohio is recognized. >> i rise today to ensure this debate is placed in an honest and important historical context. in the 1930's and early 19 40's, hitler needed america out of his
war. he used propaganda in this country to divide us and to keep us out of his war in europe. pro-hitler propaganda was all over the country and it reached this body. we know this now. mr. landsman: members of congress were in on it. as a jew, this is frighteningly similar to what is happening today. one year ago, a new foreign adversary invaded eastern europe. putin, like hitler, wants us divided. and isolated from his war. we must be clear-eyed about pro-putin p propaganda and who d why some intentionally and others unintentionally, are promoting his will. why are we being asked to ban
american officials from trying to stop propaganda from foreign adversaries like putin. why are some proposing we leave syria, which putin wants. why is the call to abandon ukraine continuing to emerge from some members? remember, hitler did this. he used americans to spread his propaganda and it cost millions their lives. putin is doing the same thing. i urge my colleagues to vote no on h.r. 140 and to call out any and all attempts to promote putin's propaganda and will. at the appropriate time, i will offer a motion to recommit this bill to committee. if the house rules permitted, i would have offered the with an important amendment to the bill. the amendment would have delayed implementation of the bill until federal agent vis ported to
congress that this bill would have no negative impact on lawful activities to combat speech that incites violence, discriminatory speech, or domestic terrorism. the bill, as drafted, is unclear on those points. as i and my colleagues pointed out, if passed h.r. 140 will encourage the spread of foreign prop began dasm it will also promote hateful, harmful, violence content online, undermine democracy and make us less safe. we clearly need more information about the effects this bill would have on speech that incites violence, discrimination, domestic terrorism, and federal agencies including the department of justice and the intelligence community are best positioned to provide that information. these critical issues must be addressed before this bill is implemented. i ask unanimous consent to insert the text of this amendment into the record.
the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman's -- the chair: the gentleman's request will be covered by yen leave. mr. landman: thank you and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman from kentucky is recognized. mr. comer: i yield one minute to my neighbor, the gentleman from tennessee, mr. rose. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for one minute. mr. rose: free speech is the cornerstone of a free and thriving society. unfortunately, recent revelations made in the twitterfiles show that free speech under the first amendment is under attack. even by those within our own federal government. our founding fathers fought hard to enshrine the right to spree feature -- free speech in our constitution. as social media companies and big tech corporations collude with rogue federal officials to censor and deplatform members of our free society including members of congress and other conservative voices, we must continue to do everything we can to fight to protect the first
amendment for everyone. the protecting speech for government interference act does exactly that. it is a victory against the modern day attacks on our freedom. and is a victory for all freedom-loving citizens of the united states who embrace and accept the right to free speech. i urge my colleagues to vote in favor of the bill. thank you, mr. speaker, and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. goldman: thank you, mr. speaker. i.d. just like to point out whut out out one additional factor here that i think is important to consider. when asked what evidence there is that the f.b.i. colluded or directed twitter to take down any speech, the chairman offered two emails from one specific f.b.i. agent which suggested that a couple of twitter handles
or tweets had given misleading information, very specifically about the time, place, or manner of voting in the upcoming elections. and if my republican colleagues believe that people should be able to lie on twitter and provide disinformation about when, where and how to vote, then they should absolutely support this bill. but if that's all that you have and that's all that you've cited, this bill is a complete waste of time and is totally unnecessary. with that, i yield two minutes to my great colleague from florida, ms. frankel. the chair: the gentlewoman is recognized for two minutes. ms. frankel: thank you, mr. speaker. well, my, my, my. if you want to talk about protecting speech from government interference, let's talk about my home state of florida. because nowhere in this country is free speech more more endangered than in the sunshine
state. florida, where republicans are erasing black history and gender studies from our schools. where republicans are threatening teachers and librarians with jail time, jail time, if they put books on their shelves that celebrate the likes of rosa parks or roberto clemente. florida. where republicans have made it illegal, illegal, for businesses to promote culture of diversity, inclusion, or respect. and in florida, where progressive thinkers are being fired from colleges and right-wing donors are being appointed to their boards. and it's florida where republicans actually punished disney world because disney world opposed the state's homophobic legislation. it's the great state of florida where free speech is only free if you agree with our governor.
so if you want to talk about protecting free speech from government interference, let's talk about florida. and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from kentucky is recognized. mr. comer: mr. chairman, i yield two minutes to the gentleman from north carolina, mr. edwards. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for two minutes. mr. edwards: thank you mr. speaker. i rise today in support of house resolution 140, protecting speech from the government interference. i applaud and appreciate chairman comer bringing this bill forward. in a recent hearing held by the oversight and accountability committee with former executives from twitter, a clear and very disturbing pattern emerged. a coordinated effort between a privately owned social media giant and the federal government to suppress critical reporting
ad of the 2020 presidential election. mr. speaker, the federal government and its legions of unelected bureaucrats must not be the final decisionmaker of what information americans can and cannot read. the onus is on congress to provide a way to effectively prevent federal bureaucrats from suppressing lawful speech. this bill, house resolution 140, would do just. that for almost 100 years, the hatch act has served as an important barrier against taxpayer-funded employees participating in political activities while on official time. and added suppression of free speech to its list of prohibited activities. i urge strong support for this legislation and i'm encouraged by chairman comer's commitment to thoroughly investigate the
ever-increasing encroachment by big tech company into the privacy and the first amendment rights of millions of americans. mr. speaker, i yield back. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. goldman: i have no idea what hearing the gentleman from north carolina is referring to. because at the hearing with twitter executives that i attended, where the head of trust and safety was specifically asked if the f.b.i. had given any information, instructions, or directions about the hunter biden-new york post story, he specifically said, no. they did not receive any information. so if that's what you all think that you're basing this bill on, the actual facts in evidence are the pre-- are precisely the opposite of that. it's preposterous that you continue to say that over and over and over as if it's true
when the evidence is directly contradictory to that. if i may have one minute, mr. speaker. i'd like to yield two minutes to my esteemed colleague from texas, ms. jackson lee. the chair: the gentlewoman from texas is recognized. members are reminded to direct their comments to the chair. ms. jackson lee: how grateful i am to be on the floor with the distinguished gentleman from new york and of course our distinguished ranking member who has really laid out the parameters of this legislation. i certainly acknowledge the manager of this underlying legislation and offer my thoughts with a little bit of consternation. i cherish the constitution and cherish the first amendment.
it is first for a reason. the founding fathers were wise enough, even with some of the failings of the constitution, including the existence of slavery. but they were wise enough to understand that the core of democracy is in fact the freedom to express. the freedom to associate. the freedom to access. the freedom of religion. the first amendment captures all of those elements. i am somewhat lost to connect this legislation to the protection of free speech. i do know that this is part of the unending obsession that my friends on the other side of the aisle have with mr. mr. biden, president biden, and his son. all investigations that are relevant and that are concerning the american people's integrity and national security are important. but how do you stretch this
legislation to suggest that it is a question of free speech in the decisions being made to hold or not hold on purposes that may be business purposes for all we know, mr. speaker. may not be free speech. and i would offer to say there are many instances that free speech has been stifled. we cannot discuss the history of african-americans through the misrepresentation of the critical race theory and getting orders in our state like texas not engage in diversity, equity and inclusiveness. the chair: the gentlewoman's time has expired. mr. goldman: 30 seconds. ms. jackson lee: this bill does not deal with free speech but a gotcha bill and ask in a coordinated matter discuss the important issues of the day that
need addressing. we will do the debt ceiling in months to come. but we should protect the first amendment and give freedom of speech and what they hear. if they join me on that, i welcome their support. we can hear and we can speak. that is important. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from kentucky is recognized. mr. comer: i yield two minutes to the gentleman from south carolina mr. friday. mr. fry: -- fry. i thank chairman comer and bringing this issue to the floor. thanks to the hard work, house republicans have opened the transparency floodgates shedding light on this administration working against the american people. because of this work, the house
committee has deduced they are using their position of authority to censor americans. this is a plate ant threat to every single american's first amendment right. the federal government shouldn't knit pick or voicing their opinions. our government, mr. speaker, and our constitution were created to protect those freedoms and not suppress them. prohibit federal employees and censor the lawful freedom of speech. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. goldman: i would like to remind you and everyone the first amendment does not protect all speech, it protects lawful speech. if you make a death threat over the internet, that is not protected speech. that is a federal crime. so let's remember as we take on
this absolutist view that all speech is free speech that there are restrictions under our laws about what is lawful speech and what is not. with that, i yield to our constitutional legal scholar, the esteemed ranking member, the gentleman from maryland. rank rank i want to thank the distinguished the gentleman from from new york for his excellent leadership on this bill today on the floor. mr. raskin: the distinguished gentlelady from colorado posedded a question that i have been hearing my republican colleagues utter, who decides who is true or falls, how can we know? and the gentlelady confided her fear that the federal government would end up defining what is true or false. well, my, my, my.
that is an absolute assault on the constitution of the united states because we have an entire federal judiciary which is based on people getting up in court and swearing an oath under god or the constitution to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and the whole point of what federal courts do is to determine what's true and what's false and we have an entire political party organizing itself under this claiming there is no way we can no decide whether an election is on tuesday or thursday as putin wants to tell us through his propose gand af through the research agency. the whole judicial system is based on the difference between truth and lies. in fact, the administrative system, you want to get social
security, either you are 65 or you're not. that is a matter of positive fact. you qualify for medicare or you don't. truth or fact. our system operates on the basis of truth or fact. don't throw up your hands and say we can't know what the truth is or what liesr we don't want bureaucrats telling us what that is, that is what democratic government is. that's how we operate to our commitment to the truth and we swear an oath here to uphold the constitution and people go to the court and swear an oath to tell the truth. now they take their their what is true and what's false and they convert it to this entire congress and it all starts with january 6 and before that, the presidential election. all starts with the big lie.
donald trump's big lie. maybe he won, maybe he didn't. you say joe biden is president we say donald trump is president. nonsense. 60 federal courts rejected every claim of corruption they put forward. they don't have a single court that ever ruled in their favor. donald trump lost that election by more than 7 million votes, 306-232 in the electoral college. now their big lie stretches all the way over to january 6. we have to disbelieve the evidence of our own eyes, of our own ears. we saw them come and descend upon this chamber, this congress, wounding and injurying 150 of our police officers,
breaking people's noses, breaking people's fingers and putting people in the hospital and already they are back on the news with big lies saying no, no, no, it was a tourist visit. like these real tourist who have to come here and watch real representatives and say there is no truth and lies. real tourists who are not beating the daylights out of our police officers. now the lie extends to january 6. who knows what really happened. we saw the vice president of the united states getting chased out of the chamber with people people yelling, hang mike pence. hang mike pence. we had a bipartisan committee for a year and a half with more than 1,000 witnesses and 100
subpoenaed witnesses from the trump white house and trump family and republicans testifying about trump's plan to overturn the presidential election and get pence, just install him in office and yet agnostic well, the truth and lies, who knows what really happened. who knows? well they have a perfect bill for you, then. we call it the putin protection act. that's what it is. the putin protection act. distinguished the gentleman from new york explained putin spent millions of dollars in 2016 to pump propaganda, electoral sabotage into our political system. he did. every security agency in the country told us that. we got a bipartisan report saying from the senate saying they are ag not particular. they see hear no evil, hear no
evil. we know it what happened. that's putin's plan. why? putin cannot beat us politically, economically or militarily. he can't beat us philosophically. one thing he's got, the internet. why? because we are a wide open country and he said let's take advantage of it and go on their social mid yeah platforms and put people who oppose putin in jail. if you send a tweet against tweet -- putin, you are going to jail. you are going to put out a tweet, you are going to jail. he said let's take advantage of america's openness and take advantage of them and lie about when the election is. we'll see it is on thursday when
it's on tuesday. we'll tell people to vote next week, whatever. and that's the genesis of this whole thing. we have agencies alerting social media saying they are putting up fraudulent information on your platform and now they come forward and say the democrats are trying to what? tell the truth? not democrats. the government, our paid federal government agencies are telling the social media like when russia, china and iran are trying to interfere in our elections. putin protection act. they want putin and xi to run free over our platforms and fine federal government employees thousands of dollars if they alert our government to what foreign-maligned actors are doing. and the whole justification for it is their silly obsession with
hunter biden's laptop and "new york post" story which was taken down by twitter one day three weeks before the election as an exercise of their private decision making and then elon musk and fires six journalists and they have no problem with that. they can do whatever they want. they want to fire journalists and take a story down for an hour or a day, they can do tay and want to turn that into the basis for handcuffing the entire government of the united states so we can't protect ourselves against putin and xi. give me a break. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman from kentucky is recognized. mr. comer: i yield two minutes
to the gentleman from wisconsin. mr. grothman: i rise in favor. it is unfortunate that this bill is necessary today. we all know why it's necessary. in the past, the government weighed in on twit iran facebook to lean on them to remove certain posts regarding news stories and president biden's son and his interactions with ukraine as well as perhaps with regard to china. weighing in at the time and the reason the government weighed in is because they wanted to make sure that president biden won the election. this is a dangerous thing. there is a certain type of government in which the government weighs in on private businesses. the plieft businesses are able to stay wealthy and owners of this businesses are allowed to
remain billionaires provided they play ball from orders from the government. in other words you give up your freedom, you maintain your wealth. and i am afraid this is the type of country we are heading towards, the scariest thing and look at the pew research center 65% of the government want censorship by the government. a day may come, i don't know the breakdown of that 65%, how many were older or younger americans. young americans are being educated that this is ok that the government knows best and apparently whether it is on political matters like we had going on with hunter biden, i suppose also with regard to things like covid and treatments for covid, whatever it is, everybody now we can marshall the big corporations of america
and under threats of who knows what, we can ask these big businesses, but you have to use them -- the chair: gentleman has yielded one minute. mr. grothman: ok you are worth a billion dollars but want you to say such and such. and the type of young people who are and the young people voting in these elections don't have a problem with this. that's why this bill is introduced today. we want to make sure in the future when the government has a preferred opinion be it on a potential president's relative, be it on a certain treatment for a disease, that the american public will be able to also get the other side of the story. ok. the side of the story the government doesn't want you to know. that's why it's so scary that the democrat party is opposing this and why it's so scarily that -- scary that apparently --
apparently their base if this opinion is right, don't have a problem with a bunch of smart, government bureaucrats deciding which version of the truth you're going to get. i realize it's difficult. apparently where your base voter is for the democrat party to vote for this bill. but i hope you -- i hope you vote for it anyway. i hope you correct what the young people have apparently been getting in school that in a free country, one of the things we should all have is the ability to say what we want. the news you are getting should not be vetted. by the government. thank you. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. goldman: thank you, mr. speaker. i must commend my colleagues that everyone is really consistent on the talking points that must have been circulated. of course they're not based on evidence but everybody does seem
to believe that somehow the f.b.i. was censoring people on twitter. of course those of us on the oversight committee who have sat through the hearings have not seen any of that. i'm also a little bewildered now because what is basically coming out is that my friends on the other side of the aisle apparently don't support law enforcement doing their jobs. don't support the intelligence committee doing their jobs to protect our national security. to protect our elections. to protect our democracy. instead they want to provide and opportunity for alternative facts to get around the internet as fast and as quickly and as unfettered as possible. but i am here to tell you that we democrats fully support the first amendment. every single one of us. observes, adhere's, cherishes the first amendment. that's in fact part of the
reason why we in the minority on the oversight committee have asked the chairman to do some oversight of michael cohen. the former president's former personal lawyer. who was jailed in solitary confinement for 16 days by the trump administration because they did not want him to publish a book. that is a prohibition on our free speech. that is censorship. that is a violation of free speech. and if we want to talk about free speech, that's what we should be talking about. not some phantom issue that doesn't exist about the f.b.i. trying to make sure that our elections remain free and fair and without foreign inter interference. mr. speaker, i would ask how much time do we have left.
the chair: the gentleman has 1 1/2 minutes remaining. mr. goldman: i reserve. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from kentucky is recognized. mr. comer: i reserve. i have no further speakers. the chair: the gentleman reserves. the gentleman from new york is recognized. mr. goldman: thank you, mr. speaker. we've now been here for about an hour, we've yet to hear any evidence at all that the f.b.i. has in any way censored anyone on social media, on twitter or otherwise. what we have heard is a private company has temporarily, temporarily restricted a false article from appearing on its website based on serious suspicions of its derivation and in fact the same basis for that
false article, a hard drive, has proven subsequently to have been altered. so the basis of what we're talking about under lying -- underliing their concern was false. but nevertheless it was still able to be sent around the internet with ample time and the social media site even apologized for doing it. this is a bill that once again is a solution searching for a problem. our first amendment covers everything that's in here but the effect of this is it would allow foreign countries to jeopardize our national security, to jeopardize our elections, and to once again interfere in our democratic process. that is the only thing that this bill accomplishes and it should be voted down. thank you, i yield back. the chair: the gentleman from new york yields back.
the gentleman from kentucky is recognized. mr. comer: i'm prepared to close. the chair: the gentleman is recognized for closing statement. mr. comer: thank you, mr. chairman. the problem we face is that federal employees see as part of their job to censor american's first amendment protected speech on internet platforms, especially if this speech is misaligned or inconvenient for the administration's political priorities. this legislation fixes and addresses this problem head on with a narrow prohibition on the activities of civil servants. this bill expands the hatch act to prohibit federal flow pleaus from using their official authority to censor lawful speech of third party online platforms. this is the first step toward important work that should be done in this space of addressing the challenges of preserving free speech on the internet for