President Donald Trump has long expressed his opposition to Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act, which grants unique liability protections to Big Tech companies and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Now, it seems the president’s patience on the issue has grown thin.
Following a threat to veto a key defense spending bill if it didn’t include a provision to repeal Section 230, Trump went nuclear this week on Senate Republicans for getting “cold feet” on the matter, saying they’re “all talk, no action,” according to The Daily Caller.
“Take back America”
It was on Tuesday that the president first threatened to veto the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) if the bill didn’t include a provision that “completely terminated” Section 230 and its immunities for Big Tech, which Trump says has been taken advantage of by the likes of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“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. Our Country can never be safe & secure if we allow it to stand,” Trump tweeted.
He went on: “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 when sent to the very beautiful Resolute desk. Take back America NOW. Thank you!”
“All talk, no action”
That threat of a veto prompted some discussion among Senate Republicans about the issue, as well as some pushback. By Thursday, it appeared that Trump’s threat would be disregarded by those with the power to make a change.
“Looks like certain Republican Senators are getting cold feet with respect to the termination of Big Tech’s Section 230, a National Security and Election Integrity MUST,” Trump lamented in a Thursday morning tweet, according to the Daily Caller. “For years, all talk, no action.”
Looks like certain Republican Senators are getting cold feet with respect to the termination of Big Tech’s Section 230, a National Security and Election Integrity MUST. For years, all talk, no action. Termination must be put in Defense Bill!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2020
“I will VETO!”
Still, the president’s 11th-hour admonishments seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced in a thread of tweets Thursday afternoon that a bipartisan agreement on the latest NDAA had been reached. In response to that, Trump reiterated: “I will VETO!”
Very sadly for our Nation, it looks like Senator @JimInhofe will not be putting the Section 230 termination clause into the Defense Bill. So bad for our National Security and Election Integrity. Last chance to ever get it done. I will VETO!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2020
According to CNBC, Inhofe had said the day prior that while America “ought to do away with 230,” it “has nothing to do with the military.” He told reporters, “You can’t do it in this bill. That’s not a part of the bill.”
Whether President Trump actually vetos the NDAA, which funds the military for the next year and includes desperately needed pay raises for troops, among other important things, remains to be seen. One thing is crystal clear, though: with questions remaining over whether he has just weeks to go in his term, Trump is done messing around with establishment Republicans who talk a big game and refuse to act.