Politics & Policy

Trump Threatens to Veto $1 Trillion Defense Bill Unless Congress Repeals Section 230

President Donald Trump speaks during a presentation in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, D.C., November 24, 2020. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

President Trump threatened via Twitter on Tuesday to veto the National Defense Authorization Act unless lawmakers repeals Section 230, a law that shields tech companies from publishing liability.

The defense bill provides for close to $1 trillion in national security spending, and has been passed annually by Congress for the past 59 years.

Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act shields digital publishers from liability for content published by third-party users. The law has come under criticism from Trump and allies who claim Twitter and Facebook have forfeited their right to protection under section 230 by engaging in editorial actions such as censoring posts that cut against liberal political values or would harm Democratic candidates.

That criticism came to a head after both platforms moved to censor or reduce circulation of a New York Post story based on documents allegedly found on the laptop of Hunter Biden, son of incoming president Joe Biden.

“Section 230, which is a liability shielding gift from the U.S. to “Big Tech” (the only companies in America that have it – corporate welfare!), is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night. “Therefore, if the very dangerous & unfair Section 230 is not completely terminated as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I will be forced to unequivocally VETO the Bill.”

Democrats will not accede to the move, a senior House staffer told Politico.

“It’s a f***ing joke,” the staffer said. “This is a complex debate that has no business as an eleventh-hour airdrop.”

Representative Paul Mitchell (R., Mich.), who sits on the Armed Services Committee, said he was “disgusted” by Trump’s threat on Wednesday morning.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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