By Leo Wolfson, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming’s U.S. senators signed on to a bill Tuesday intended to kill a newly created “disinformation” board designed to cut down on the distribution of foreign misinformation in the U.S.
The bill would prohibit the use of federal funds for the Disinformation Governance Board of the Department of Homeland Security and would also prevent funds from going toward “any other similar entity established” in DHS.
The bill already has 18 senators signed on including Sens. Cynthia Lummis and John Barrasso, as well as Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Marco Rubio, R-Florida, Rick Scott, R-Florida, and bill sponsor Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas.
The bill was developed in response to the announcement by the administration of President Joe Biden about the creation of a government department to combat online disinformation.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced the department will be led by Nina Jankowicz, an American researcher, author, and commentator who has specialized in the topic of disinformation and who Mayorkas has defended as “absolutely” neutral.
But Cotton expressed his doubts about how the department would be used.
“The Biden administration wants a government agency dedicated to cracking down on what its subjects can say, an idea popular with Orwellian governments everywhere,” Cotton said on Twitter Tuesday morning. “This board is unconstitutional and un-American—my bill puts a stop to it.”
Barrasso, meanwhile, said the administration has more important things to worry about.
“The Department of Homeland Security’s number one job right now should be securing our southern border,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “The last thing they should be wasting taxpayer dollars on is creating a new government-controlled, so-called truth squad that infringes on Americans’ constitutional rights.”
Many Republicans have decried the new department as “Orwellian,” comparing it to the Ministry of Truth in the novel “1984” by George Orwell.
But Mayorkas said the concerns are unfounded.
“Those criticisms are precisely opposite of what this small working group within the Department of Homeland Security will do,” he said on CNN on Sunday.
Mayorkas identified misinformation as a national security threat and said the Department of Homeland Security has been addressing the issue since the administration of former President Donald Trump.
He said the new Disinformation Governance Board will have no operational authority but will determine a set of “best practices” to surveil for threats of violence from foreign states and adversaries while simultaneously safeguarding free speech, civil rights, liberties and privacy.
The bill was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Monday.