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The American Independent

Republicans suddenly have plenty of free time to throw tantrums about Twitter

But they won’t act on coronavirus relief.

By Emily Singer - October 15, 2020
Ted Cruz

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Josh Hawley of Missouri are up in arms over Twitter’s move to ban its users from sharing a New York Post story about Joe Biden’s son, Hunter — a piece that upon further review has completely fallen apart.

On Thursday, the trio threatened to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to make him explain the decision to block links to the article, which analysts say looks like laundered Russian propaganda to try to influence the election. They said that the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which all three are members, will vote on Tuesday on whether to subpoena Dorsey, and that Twitter’s actions constitute censorship.

“This is election interference, and we are 19 days out from an election,” Cruz said on Thursday. “Never before have we seen active censorship of a major press publication with serious allegations of corruption of one of the two candidates for president.”

Twitter has already explained its actions, saying the article violates the platform’s policy on spreading hacked materials and personal information. “The policy, established in 2018, prohibits the use of our service to distribute content obtained without authorization,” Twitter said in a statement. “We don’t want to incentivize hacking by allowing Twitter to be used as distribution for possibly illegally obtained materials.”

But the fact that the GOP lawmakers already teed up a subpoena vote one day after the Post story broke shows just how quickly they can spring into action on something they care about — in this case, the effort to stop Donald Trump and his allies from spreading Russian propaganda and misinformation on social media.

Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to take up coronavirus relief legislation passed by the House months ago that would provide financial assistance to the more than 12 million Americans currently out of work. Amid the continuing coronavirus economic downturn, 8 million people have fallen into poverty, with the economic recovery now appearing to stall.

The House passed a relief bill on May 15 that would have authorized a new round of direct $1,200 payments to many Americans and extend an added $600 weekly unemployment insurance payment through the end of the year. Republicans refused to take up the bill.

House Democrats passed another virus relief bill earlier this month that also extended the $600 weekly payments and authorized another round of $1,200 payments, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has ruled out a vote on the bill.

In fact, McConnell has sat on some 400 bills the House has passed since the Democratic House majority was sworn in in January 2019.

The priorities of the Senate GOP are posing political problems for the party.

Republicans are in serious peril of losing their Senate majority, with polls showing voters want the chamber to prioritize coronavirus relief.

Instead, it is working to subpoena tech CEOs for blocking fake news and ramming through Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court with unprecedented speed ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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