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Rep. Paul Gosar. Photo: Paul Morigi/WireImage

House Democrats today presented a rules package giving the Ethics Committee a year to recommend how it will deal with members who disseminate false and unverified content on social media.

Why it matters: The Democrat-led Rules Committee changed its rules package after Republicans claimed an original proposal to make it an ethics violation for disseminating so-called deepfakes would infringe on their First Amendment rights. The package was being voted on today.

The backstory: Last year, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) posted a manipulated photo on Twitter purporting to show President Obama shaking hands with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Obama and Rouhani never met in person.

  • The real photo was taken in 2011, and it showed Obama shaking hands with then-Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
  • President Trump also shared a fake video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Facebook and Twitter purporting to show her slurring her words during a news conference.

Republicans publicly criticized the rule after House Democrats delivered a progressive rules package to launch the 117th Congress packed with ways to advance diversity and inclusion.

  • For the first time, it proposed a rule making it an ethics violation for members to disseminate unverified content. That rule was tweaked after the GOP complaints.
  • Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Rules Committee, said in a statement issued Saturday the rule was "rife with the possibility of abuse and likely to be enforced in a way that creates a double standard between the majority and minority."
  • And during a speech to present Nancy Pelosi as speaker Sunday night, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy chimed in with his own critique.
  • “They would penalize any member who shares news or views that liberals and their allies in the media deem 'fake,'" McCarthy said. "They actually make it an ethics violation — which is usually reserved for such unbecoming conduct as bribery and corruption."

What they’re saying: House Rules Committee Chair Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said in prepared remarks: “I’ll note that we initially planned to go even further — amending our Code of Conduct with this rules package — but we heard some of our colleagues’ concerns. We agreed to take a little more time to get the language just right.”

Editor's note: This post has been corrected to reflect that the manipulated photo Gosar posted on Twitter was of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (not Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani).

Go deeper

After impeachment, Trump says he "unequivocally" condemns U.S. Capitol violence

Photo: MANDEL NGAN via Getty

President Trump condemned political violence in a video Wednesday evening exactly one week after a pro-Trump mob breached the Capitol in a deadly siege, and hours after the House voted to impeach him for a second time.

Why it matters: The video, posted to the White House's official Twitter account, came as the president faces an impeachment trial in the Senate after 10 Republicans voted with House Democrats for impeachment.

UNC race conscious admissions process upheld by judge

Students walk through the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Aug. 18, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill can continue its race conscious admissions process, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

Why it matters: The case could end up in the Supreme Court after the conservative nonprofit Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) vowed to appeal the judge's ruling that UNC didn't discriminate against against white and Asian American applicants in its policy that it said was designed to increase diversity.

SEC debunks conspiracy theories about meme stock mania

Photo: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The SEC issued its long-awaited report on the meme stock mania, which downplayed the narrative that a "short squeeze" was the primary driver behind GameStop's historic stock moves — and shot down conspiracy theories about the event.

Why it matters: The postmortem was highly anticipated, largely because of what it could hint about what the regulator thinks should be done in wake of the saga. But the report stopped short of specific policy recommendations.