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FCC Commissioner Mike O'Rielly. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Republican Federal Communications Commissioner Mike O'Rielly said he's unsure whether his agency has the authority to carry out President Trump's executive order targeting tech firms' legal protections.

Why it matters: Trump's order seeks to have the FCC craft regulations limiting the scope of legal immunity that online platforms have under federal law. All three commission Republicans would need to support such regulations for them to pass, as the FCC's two Democrats are certain to oppose them.

Details: In an interview Wednesday for C-SPAN's "The Communicators," O'Rielly told Axios he sympathizes with the president's claims that conservatives have been unfairly stifled online, but "what we do about that is a different story."

  • O'Rielly questioned whether Congress gave the FCC the power to regulate based on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which immunizes platforms from legal action over user-posted content and moderation decisions.
  • "I have deep reservations they provided any intentional authority for this matter, but I want to listen to people," O'Rielly said, later adding, "I do not believe it is the right of the agency to read into the statute authority that is not there."
  • The executive order directs the Commerce Department to petition the FCC to review the issue. Assuming it gets to that stage, O'Rielly wants the FCC to put the matter to the public for comment.

Context: O'Rielly has been nominated by the White House for another term on the commission. The Senate Commerce Committee has a hearing on his renomination scheduled for Tuesday.

  • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has stayed relatively quiet on the executive order, while the third Republican on the commission, Brendan Carr, has been vocal in his support.

Go deeper...Scoop: White House taps Hawley to take aim at tech shield

Go deeper

Biden on presidential mask mandate: "Our legal team thinks I can do that"

Biden waves as he leaves a hotel in Wilmington, Delaware, on Wednesday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told reporters in Delaware Wednesday he believes he would have the legal authority as president to issue a nationwide mandate to wear face masks to curb the spread of the coronavirus if needed.

Details: "Our legal team thinks I can do that, based upon the degree to which there's a crisis in those states, and how bad things are for the country," Biden said.

Updated 39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Senate action on stimulus bill continues as Dems reach deal on jobless aid

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic leaders struck an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on emergency unemployment insurance late Friday, clearing the way for Senate action on President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package to resume after an hours-long delay.

The state of play: The Senate will now work through votes on a series of amendments that are expected to last overnight into early Saturday morning.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

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