It might almost look like bipartisanship is back on Tuesday, when a Senate subcommittee convenes a hearing with a former Facebook employee, as Democrats and Republicans are almost equally eager to use the hearing to blast the social media giant.
They’re coming at their outrage from decidedly different angles, which could stifle efforts to pass meaningful regulations more than any perceived technological illiteracy in Congress.
But the timing could hardly be worse for social media companies, even aside from Monday’s bizarrely timed, though apparently unrelated, site outage. The House committee examining the events of Jan. 6 is picking up its pace on information gathering, scheduling formal witness interviews this week and, if necessary, seeking to enforce subpoenas for those who are unwilling to cooperate.
Among whistleblower Frances Haugen’s accusations is that Facebook relaxed safeguards surrounding election-related content too soon after Nov. 3, allowing misinformation and disinformation to spread and for the attempted insurrection to gain steam.
The company is pushing back at any such suggestion. Nick Clegg, the vice president of global affairs at Facebook, told CNN on Sunday that blame “lies squarely with the people who inflicted the violence and those who encouraged them, including President Trump.”
Facebook is also reiterating its calls for lawmakers to set “industry standards” for it and other companies to follow when it comes to regulating potentially harmful speech. Haugen, meanwhile, is setting something a hopeful tone ahead of her testimony, launching a website labeling herself an “advocate for public oversight of social media.”
That remains terrain that lawmakers are far from approaching with any unity of purpose. These won’t be the last difficult questions Facebook and other companies may be forced to face in the coming weeks.
With the fate of his agenda in the balance, President Joe Biden is voicing his frustration with two Democratic senators blocking the path forward for his multi-trillion dollar social spending plan.
When asked by a reporter why he has been unable “to close the deal” on integral parts of his agenda, Biden clapped back.
“I was able to close the deal with 99% of my party,” Biden said before calling out singling out Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., without using their names. “Two. Two people — that’s still underway.”
Biden also owned his plan and its price tag.
“I mean look, the legislation, both the Build Back Better piece, as well as the infrastructure piece, are things that I wrote,” Biden said, referring to the two bills. “These didn’t come from, God love them, Bernie Sanders, AOC, or anybody else. I wrote them.”
It remains to be seen if Biden’s hardening tone on Manchin and Sinema will yield any change, as the pair are still opposed. Manchin has even made an additional demand calling for the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal money from being used for abortion care, to be included.
The president met with progressives Monday evening, seemingly conceding that the ultimate legislation won’t be as large as the planned $3.5 trillion.
The topline objective of Texas’ third special session of the year — the state’s once-in-a-decade redistricting process — is moving along expeditiously, but not without controversy. On Monday, the Senate redistricting committee advanced its proposed map to a full state Senate vote later this week, while bypassing requests for changes from two of the state’s most high-profile Democrats.
“You even went so far as listing […] the 18th District as ‘blank’ or ‘vacant’ and indicating that the 9th [District] had two persons, two sitting Congress persons, two incumbents, and you have them in essence running against each other. I am respectfully asking for these districts to be repaired, and the 18th Congressional District to be restored,” Jackson Lee said.
Although Republican State Sen. Joan Huffman, who leads the redistricting effort, said the changes comply with the Voting Rights Act, both representatives pointed out that the update separates existing Black communities. “It doesn’t look right for the only two persons in the state of Texas to be running against each other in a congressional district from the same party to be of African ancestry,” Green noted.
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