Senate Republicans cast doubt on President Biden’s future by promising to dissolve the disinformation board at the Department of Homeland Security.
Senator Steve Daines of Montana and 17 other Republican lawmakers say they will oppose any appropriations or government funding bill that includes money for the board. The discussion was made in a letter sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee, obtained only by the Washington Times.
“The federal government should never be in the business of regulating the conversation or being the arbiter of truth, and this latest attempt to get on this slippery slope should be thwarted.” MPs wrote.
DHS announced earlier this week that it is pausing the launch of the disinformation board after widespread backlash from conservative groups and civil libertarians. In particular, many lawmakers feared that the board would become a censorship arm of the federal government, with broad powers to regulate freedom of expression on social media and other media.
GOP lawmakers specifically questioned the need for DHS to set up such a panel, noting that law enforcement already had the mandate to combat global disinformation.
Complicating matters, the board’s chosen director, Nina Jankowicz, has a controversial history of provocative statements about freedom of speech and a propensity to spread misinformation.
Shortly after DHS Secretary Alejandro Majorkas announced that the board would be halted, Ms Jankowicz resigned. Ms Jankowicz said the decision was made because of the broad “misconceptions” in her views and the type of work to be done by the board.
“It is profoundly disappointing that misidentifications across the board have distracted from the vital work of the department and indeed embodied why this is necessary with recent global and national events,” he said.
Despite his departure, DHS has promised to somehow revive its board, saying its cause is needed more than ever.
“Administration was grossly and deliberately misidentified: it was never about censorship or police speech,” the ministry said in a statement. “It is designed to enable us to fulfill our mission of protecting the homeland while protecting fundamental constitutional rights.”
Republicans say they will fight to block any new iterations of the board by using a set of legislative procedures to ensure that tax dollars are not used to fund their work.
“There is a fine line between combating disinformation and government censorship,” Mr. Daines and colleagues wrote. “Exactly where the Disinformation Board falls on that line remains unclear, and the potential for abuse is so appalling that we want any form of funding banned for the board in the National Security appropriations process.”