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Sen. Ted Cruz. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee has said it won't accept the witness Google offered for a Wednesday subcommittee hearing on free speech online, according to multiple sources.

Why it matters: Facebook and Twitter will be represented at the hearing, chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), but Google may not be there to respond to expected criticism that it is biased against conservatives.

Details:

  • A source familiar with the matter said that Google had offered to send Max Pappas, a staffer focused on conservative outreach with a long career in right-wing politics, to the hearing, entitled "Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse." (His expected attendance was reported on Tuesday morning.)
  • But the committee had rejected him as a witness, according to the source and Will Dempster, the spokesperson for Sen. Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), the top Democrat on the subcommittee hosting the hearing. Dempster said that while the committee's Republican majority rejected Pappas, she would have "welcomed" his testimony.
  • Facebook and Twitter are both sending witnesses to the hearing.

Pappas is himself a former Cruz staffer and before that held positions at different conservative groups.

What they're saying: "The committee negotiated with Google to send a more senior representative from Google comparable to the representatives that Facebook and Twitter committed to send," said a committee staffer. "Google was unable to provide someone in time so the subcommittee will be hosting a hearing with Google only in the coming weeks."

  • Both Facebook and Twitter's witnesses have "director" in their title. Pappas's LinkedIn says his job title changed this month from "Manager, External Outreach and Public Policy Partnerships" to "Acting Director, Political & Stakeholder Outreach."

A Google spokesperson said in a statement, "We are happy to testify and have offered the most qualified subject matter expert for the hearing. We stand ready to continue working with the Committee."

The big picture: Cruz and others have long alleged that major web platforms are biased against conservatives, with a regular focus on Google and its subsidiary YouTube.

  • Research and reporting has not proven an active, systemic effort on the part of the platforms to dampen the reach of conservative voices, despite the persistent allegations.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional comment from Sen. Mazie Hirono's office.

Go deeper

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.

The Supreme Court's abortion showdown arrives

Protesters gather at the Supreme Court during arguments about the Texas abortion law Nov. 1. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Supreme Court will debate today whether to overturn Roe v. Wade, and neither side is trying to lower the stakes — or to make today’s case anything less than a referendum on Roe’s very survival.

The big picture: Conventional wisdom, on both the left and right, says the court is likely to chip away at abortion rights without overturning its precedents outright. But neither side has spent much time trying to help the justices thread that needle.

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