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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.

Trio of Saturday mass shootings rock U.S.

Police officers in New York City's Times Square on Saturday. Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

The U.S. was hit by mass shootings in New York City's Times Square, a shopping mall in Florida and at a townhome near Baltimore that left four people dead, including the suspected shooter.

The big picture: Since President Biden took office in January, over 700 people have been injured or killed in 139 mass shootings as of late last month.

2 hours ago - World

Scottish first minister vows independence referendum after election win

Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, reacts after being declared the winner of the Glasgow Southside seat at Glasgow counting centre in the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on Friday. Photo: Andy Buchanan /AFP via Getty Images

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans Saturday for a second independence referendum once the pandemic has abated following the country's parliamentary elections.

The big picture: Sturgeon's Scottish National Party won 64 seats, one seat short of an outright majority in the 129-seat Parliament. But most seats went to pro-independence parties.