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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Senate Judiciary to vote Thursday on forcing testimony from Twitter, Facebook CEOs


The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote Thursday on whether to issue subpoenas to the CEOs of Twitter and Facebook, a spokesperson for the committee said late Wednesday, escalating Republicans' standoff with the social media companies over allegations of political bias.

The details: Lawmakers will vote to allow the panel to compel testimony from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Judiciary communications director Taylor Reidy said Wednesday evening.

If issued, the tech moguls would be required to testify on the alleged "suppression and/or censorship" of a disputed New York Post report alleging direct ties between Joe Biden and his son's business interests, according to a document released by the panel.

Republican Judiciary leaders last week announced plans to vote on subpoenas for Dorsey and Zuckerberg, whose companies are facing intense scrutiny from President Donald Trump and his GOP allies over their efforts to limit the distribution of the Post reports. But the vote, initially slated for Tuesday, was delayed after some Republican members expressed reservations about the timing and scope of the maneuver, as POLITICO previously reported.

Reidy told POLITICO that negotiations between the committee and the companies for the CEOs to testify voluntarily, rather than by subpoena, are still ongoing. The committee had indicated earlier this week it would move to a subpoena vote if the two sides were unable to reach a deal for them to appear willingly.

Spokespeople for Twitter and Facebook declined to comment.

Zuckerberg, Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai are separately scheduled to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee next Wednesday.

A packed hearing: Thursday's subpoena vote will take place during the same session where the Judiciary Committee is expected to advance the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Senate Judiciary Democrats have indicated they plan to boycott the vote, but Reidy said the committee will move ahead with the full agenda for the session.

A small reprieve for the tech industry: The committee will again postpone consideration of a bill led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), aimed at narrowing the internet companies' coveted liability protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Reidy said.



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