Several Senate Democrats sent a letter to Sen. Amy Klobuchar requesting an amendment to the “American Innovation and Choice Online Act” (S. 2992) that would make it easier to continue censoring conservatives online. To be clear the bill, as currently drafted, does nothing to address Big Tech’s censorship of conservatives.
In a week that has engulfed S. 2992 in complete chaos, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) says that Republicans will walk if the proposed amendment is added. Yet the bill sponsors are willing to say anything to their colleagues in hopes of garnering more support and get their bill to 60 votes. They contradict each other, even as they stand next to one another, and flip flop on previous statements depending on their audience.
During a recent press conference, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said this bill is “not focused on content” and Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said nothing in the bill would keep Big Tech from doing what “they currently do to moderate content and prohibit hate speech.” Conservatives know this is truly about speech liberals in Silicon Valley don’t agree with.
At the same press conference, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said the bill needed to pass to address “the threat to free speech that Big Tech poses.” However, in early April, during a segment on Rep. Matt Gaetz’s podcast, Rep. Ken Buck admitted the political reality of having “a president, a Democrat president in the White House, who will not sign a bill that harms the kind of censorship that the Democrats have appreciated in the last few years.”
Rep. Buck either doesn’t know or understand what his bill would do or is being disingenuous and attempting to fool colleagues by claiming the bill would address conservative bias, a top issue for Republicans. Either is possible – at a pep rally for the bill last week, Rep. Buck admitted to not understanding antitrust law at all.
Rep. Cicilline responded to his Senate Democratic colleagues (despite the letter being addressed to Sen. Klobuchar) saying that the proposed pro-censorship amendment “is already reflected in the base text of the bill.”
Who is telling the truth?
S. 2992 makes a litany of actions unlawful for companies over a government-determined size. The most notable provision prohibits targeted companies from promoting their own private-label products next to offerings from competing businesses on the platform.
In a weak attempt to convince conservatives that the bill bans Big Tech censorship, Section 3(a)(3) of the bill prevents targeted companies from “[discriminating] in the application or enforcement of the terms of service of the covered platform among similarly situated business users in a manner that would materially harm competition.”
Of course, this red herring does not actually address Big Tech censorship – it would simply put unelected bureaucrats in charge of content moderation decisions that only seem to go against conservatives. As a whole, the bill puts companies in a “mother-may-I” relationship with the Biden Administration. Marrying Big Tech and Big Government will not lead to a scenario that is good for conservatives online.
Empowering the Biden FTC in particular should be of particular concern for conservatives who may be flirting with the idea of voting for this bill. FTC Chair Lina Khan, who is presiding over an agency-wide exodus because of her “abusive” and “tyrannical” leadership style, has called for using antitrust to go after so-called “disinformation.” FTC Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter has called for the government to use antitrust authority to confront “systemic racism.”
Democrats are in disarray as the legislative calendar narrows. In private, Senate Democrats are backing off the bill, with one aide calling it Klobuchar’s “pet project.” According to Politico, “a handful of Democrats have also privately complained that Klobuchar’s office has been unresponsive to criticism about the legislation, and that they’ve had difficulty convincing her staffers to discuss some of their suggested tweaks.”
S. 2992 is clearly fraught with numerous problems. Its sponsors have been so secretive and unresponsive to changes that lawmakers are warring in public to secure eleventh-hour changes that would damage conservative speech. No Republican should vote for a bill that would dramatically increase the size and scope of government in this fashion, especially one that is being jammed through to let Democrats run on a fake accomplishment before the midterm election.