House Republicans are pushing to defund the Department of Homeland Security “Disinformation Governance Board,” calling the highly controversial panel a ploy developed by Democrats to maintain their grip in Washington.
Seventy members of the House Republican Conference, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, have signed on to a measure introduced by Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado last week which would terminate the board and “prohibit the use of Federal funds to establish any other similar board.”
“President Biden‘s disinformation governance boards must be completely dismantled,” Mr. McCarthy said Wednesday. “It’s a scheme conjured up by Washington Democrats to grant themselves the authority to control free speech. They fear Americans having unfettered access to information because it will challenge the power they want to have over people’s lives.”
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas has remained on the defense after announcing the formation of the board late last month with Republicans labeling the move as unconstitutional and chiding the endeavor as an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.”
In testimony before the Senate last week, Mr. Mayorkas sought to allay Republican concerns over the board, referring to it as a “working group” which he said would provide oversight to ensure department employees adhere to practices that protect Americans’ free speech.
“The working group does not have operational capacity and authority. It is to make sure there are policies in place, standards in place, to protect the very rights about which you inquired,” he said.
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Mr. Mayorkas admitted during his testimony that he failed to effectively communicate the intent of the board when he announced its formation in testimony before Congress. He also said the board had been operational for several months.
Republicans have also seized on past statements from the board’s executive director, Nina Jankowicz, including past comments which questioned the underpinnings of free speech, promoted the now-discredited Steele dossier, and cast doubt on the Hunter Biden laptop, which has now been verified.
“This person has no business serving in government, much less given a role to monitor information,” Mr. McCarthy said of Ms. Jankowicz. “She actively worked and spread misinformation that now has been proven false, and they want to put her in charge.”
The announcement added fuel to an already raging debate about online free speech, spurred by Elon Musk’s planned purchase of Twitter.
“Make no mistake, free speech is under attack here in America,” Mrs. Boebert said Wednesday. “The Biden regime continuously uses different methods to try to silence dissenting voices. All are a coordinated effort to keep power, silence the truth and prevent people who disagree with them from having a voice.”
“I’m calling on Congress to pass my protecting free speech act, terminate this Orwellian Ministry of Truth, fire Nina Jankowicz and prevent the Biden regime from silencing the American people,” she said.
– Stephen Dinan contributed to this story.