House Passes Direct Assault on Free Speech

H.R. 1 combines seemingly every speech suppression idea from the last decade

March 3, 2021   •  By IFS Staff   •  
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Washington, DC – The Institute for Free Speech released the following statement in reaction to today’s vote by the House of Representatives to pass H.R. 1, a nearly 800-page overhaul of the nation’s political speech, elections, and ethics laws. The bill passed on a narrow vote with bipartisan opposition this evening after only one committee hearing, which did not address the legislation’s threats to free speech.

“Members of the House just voted to make life easier for themselves and harder for their critics. Under H.R. 1, members of Congress can receive cash subsidies for their campaigns, but Americans will have to hire a lawyer to figure out how they can speak truth to power. Many of the new rules aren’t just bad – they’re also unconstitutional,” said Institute for Free Speech President David Keating.

“H.R. 1 would transform the independent, bipartisan Federal Election Commission into a partisan agency controlled by the president. The FEC was created after President Nixon’s attacks on his political ‘enemies.’ With today’s vote, the House threatens to turn back the clock to the pre-Watergate era,” said Institute for Free Speech Chairman and Founder Bradley A. Smith, who served on the FEC between 2000 and 2005.

Smith and eight other former FEC commissioners sent a letter to House leaders explaining the problems with H.R. 1’s changes to the Commission in February. The bill now moves to the Senate where its fate is uncertain. The Senate version of the bill, S. 1, has not yet been released.

To read the Institute’s letter to the House Administration Committee on H.R. 1’s harms to speech and assembly rights, click here. For all of the Institute for Free Speech’s resources, analysis, and commentary on H.R. 1, click here.

About the Institute for Free Speech

The Institute for Free Speech is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that promotes and defends the First Amendment rights to freely speak, assemble, publish, and petition the government. Originally known as the Center for Competitive Politics, it was founded in 2005 by Bradley A. Smith, a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. The Institute is the nation’s largest organization dedicated solely to protecting First Amendment political rights.

IFS Staff

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