Today, a broad coalition of more than 50 media guilds, press freedom, civil liberties, and government transparency organizations joined Demand Progress and Freedom of the Press Foundation in a letter to the Senate urging the blocking of a dangerous new amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would censor the online publication of information about members of Congress and those connected to them.
“Senators Klobuchar and Cruz’s internet censorship amendment will have a heavy toll on journalists, non-profits, and members of the public who seek to use their First Amendment rights to identify corruption at the highest levels, all while failing to provide members of Congress the security they need,” said Daniel Schuman, policy director at Demand Progress. “We must know whether our representatives are honest, and Senate Amendment 218 to the NDAA would empower them to remove true facts from the internet and databases, an invitation to the grossest abuses of power where political figures and their staff can pick and choose what speech they like and censor the rest.”
The internet censorship amendment, Senate Amendment 218, offered by Sens. Klobuchar and Cruz to the must-pass Senate NDAA, is largely identical to the Judicial Security and Privacy Act that was slipped in at the last minute to last year’s NDAA, but this amendment is focused on Congress, not federal judges. It has serious First Amendment problems because it lets members of Congress forcefully coerce the removal of certain information about them or their families from the internet. It is very broad as it can apply to their parents, adult kids, siblings, roommates, and staff, and can cause the removal of basic information such as properties that they own, where they are located, and their email addresses.
Continue reading “50+ Orgs Join Demand Progress and Freedom of Press Foundation to Fight Internet Censorship Provision in NDAA”
This week Congress starts its two-week Independence Day holiday. We’re hoping to take next week off from writing our little newsletter, but we’ll be back.
Among the highlights from this past week:
Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for 6/26/23 – Teeing Up a Busy July”
- Senate Appropriators adopted 302(b) allocations that are very different from the House’s untenable numbers, but with many Republican defections
- the National Defense Authorization Act got a full committee markup in the House
- the Leg Branch Approps bill was reported by the full Appropriations Committee with a few culture-war amendments
- a resolution to allow for unions in the Senate was introduced by Sen. Brown
- the Congressional Data Task Force discussed significant efforts to modernize congressional technology
- the PRESS Act was introduced in both chambers
- OMB released guidance for the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act.
After a House Administration Subcommittee hearing focused on the personal rather than the institutional aspects of the Office of Congressional Ethics, we take a deeper look at why that office is vital to an ethical Congress.
Congressional unions scored an historic win for committee staff and others.
This week both chambers are in session through Friday after the Juneteenth holiday.
The full Senate Appropriations Committee plans to complete markups for the Agriculture and MilCon/VA bills at the funding levels set by the debt ceiling agreement, teeing up a conflict with House Republicans who are reneging on the deal. Meanwhile, House Appropriators will have a full committee markup on Wednesday for Leg Branch and Homeland Security, and on Thursday a full committee markup for Defense and Energy & Water.
Senate Armed Services Committee will have a series of closed hearings on the NDAA while the House will hold its markup of the bill Wednesday morning.
The Congressional Data Task Force will hold a quarterly meeting on Thursday from 2-4 PM in B-248/B-249 Longworth. If you care about congressional data, this open meeting is for you. RSVP and catch up on what happened in March.
Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for June 20, 2023: Approps Heats Up”
A bipartisan quartet of members have circulated a Dear Colleague letter inviting cosponsors for the PRESS Act, an important journalist shield law, which the House passed unanimously last Congress but was blocked by a lone senator on a spurious basis. In light of the recent death of American hero Daniel Ellsberg, who told the truth about Vietnam at the risk of his freedom, we should make sure that the government cannot compel the press to spill on their sources.
The House included the Periodically Listing Updates to Management (PLUM) Act as an amendment to the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed last week.
“In passing the Periodically Listing Updates to Management (PLUM) Act, Congress just took an important step to increase transparency of political appointees, who are among the most senior leaders of the Executive branch, and known for having ‘plum positions’ because of their close and confidential relationships with key officials and ability to steer policy matters with little public oversight,” said Daniel Schuman, policy director at Demand Progress.
“The PLUM Act provides Congress and taxpayers with a tool to hold administrations and their appointees accountable by requiring the Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to create a frequently-updated online directory of senior government leaders and vacant senior Executive branch positions. This is a vast improvement over the current practice of publishing a paper-only book every four years and should also increase the visibility of public service opportunities and widen the pool of diverse candidates pursuing high-level positions in the federal government.
Demand Progress has long supported the bill, and we commend Representatives Connolly, Castro, Mfume, Ocasio-Cortez, Sarbanes; Del. Norton; and Senators Braun, Duckworth, and Merkley for advancing this bipartisan legislation to resolve an important issue raised by the Government Accountability Office, which noted in a March 2019 report that ‘there is no single source of data on political appointees serving in the executive branch that is publicly available, comprehensive, and timely.’”