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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Trump administration is pressing Congress to repeal the tech industry's prized liability shield, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, as part of a must-pass end-of-year defense-spending authorization bill, sources tell Axios, while Senate Republicans try to improvise a more limited change.

Between the lines: The last-minute maneuvering shows that the White House is hoping bipartisan animus against Big Tech will help it notch a win on the topic before Trump leaves office.

Why it matters: As Republicans complain about bias against conservatives and Democrats decry tech platforms' failure to control misinformation, repealing or limiting Section 230 has become a favorite remedy for both — but tech companies argue that such changes would lead to chaos in the online industry.

What's happening: A source familiar with the negotiations told Axios that Sen. Roger Wicker, Republican chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, has proposed that his bill limiting Section 230 protections be included in the National Defense Authorization Act.

But, but, but: It's a long shot, for political and logistical reasons.

  • The White House has pushed lawmakers to insert a repeal of Section 230 into the NDAA, as part of a compromise that would have President Trump sign the bill even though he's opposed to a provision that renames military bases that are named for Confederate leaders.
  • But Senate Republicans are instead trying to negotiate an alternative that would combine multiple bills aimed at reforming the law, including the bipartisan Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency Act and Wicker's Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act, a Hill source familiar with the matter told Axios.

The bottom line: It appears Republicans are open to the White House's buzzer-beater policy goals, but Democrats are sure to object.

Go deeper

Hispanic congressmen push for purge of Confederate renaming panel

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro wears a face mask during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Capitol Hill on September 16, 2020. PHOTO: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Two Hispanic congressmen, Reps. Joaquin Castro and Ruben Gallego, are asking Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to remove Trump loyalists from a panel charged with renaming 10 Army bases that honor Confederate leaders.

Why it matters: The request, outlined in a letter Friday written by Castro and Gallego, comes as the Biden administration purges remaining Trump-era appointees and as Hispanic and Black leaders demand that some Army bases be renamed after people of color.

Hundreds of corporations sign statement opposing restrictive voting bills

Former American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault. Photo: Earl Gibson III/WireImage)

Hundreds of companies and executives released a letter on Wednesday condemning legislation that restricts "any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot," per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the most concerted action yet by big business in opposition to GOP-sponsored bills at the state level that limit mail-in ballots, implement new voter ID requirements and slash registration options, among other measures.

44 mins ago - Axios Twin Cities

Brooklyn Center mayor in the spotlight after Daunte Wright shooting

Mike Elliott has moved swiftly after the death of Daunte Wright. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images)

The killing of Daunte Wright by a Brooklyn Center, Minn., police officer has thrust Mayor Mike Elliott into the national spotlight.

The big picture: Elliott, with the backing of the city council, has acted quickly and boldly in the wake of the shooting. He fired longtime city manager Curt Boganey, took control of the police department and called for the firing of officer Kim Potter, who resigned on Tuesday.