H.R 140 creates dangerous limitations on the government to prevent disinformation online, threatening rank-and-file federal employees with fines and termination if they request or encourage social media platforms to correct false information that puts Americans in danger.
This bill was originally borne from Republican campaign promises to investigate Hunter Biden and fight the deplatforming of its most extreme voices that posted false information about voting, vaccines or expressed racism and anti-Semitism. It creates dangerous restrictions on how the government can respond to false information online.
The bill outlaws censorship by government employees and defines "censorship" as follows:
The term ‘censor’ or ‘censorship’ means influencing or coercing, or directing another to influence or coerce, for—
“(A) the removal or suppression of lawful speech, in whole or in part, from or on any interactive computer service;
“(B) the addition of any disclaimer, information, or other alert to lawful speech being expressed on an interactive computer service; or
“(C) the removal or restriction of access of any person or entity on an interactive computer service generally available to the public, unless such person or entity is engaged in unlawful speech or criminal activities on such service"
So, what does this mean? It would restrict the government from demanding that Twitter remove insulting posts, as the Trump White House attempted during his administration. However, it goes well beyond those clear misuses of governmental authority to impose dangerous restrictions on public safety and election security.
Even those federal employees who are not in violation of this statute would certainly be chilled in their lawful actions to correct disinformation online, which is the intent of the bill's authors. The term "influencing" in the definition of censorship remains broad enough such that it forces rank-and-file government employees to make a decision to risk their employment and a $5,000 fine in order to effectively do their jobs.
H.R. 140 will presumably not pass the Senate, which will resolve the threats that this bill poses. However, voters in NY-19 are likely to begin questioning why they need to repeatedly be saved by the Senate from the votes of a Congressman who promised to be moderate and deliberative.
This bill passed by a fully party-line vote, 219-206. Molinaro voted FOR this bill.
The Biden administration largely reinstated certain Obama-era environmental protection laws that were rolled back by the Trump administration. H.J. Res 27 attempts to revert these environmental protections once again to the weaker and more permissive guidelines from the Trump administration.
In a nutshell, the Clean Water Act seeks to protect American water resources from pollution, maintain their physical integrity and ensure that the flora and fauna that depend on the waters is protected to the extent practicable. It's a base set of statutes that have protected the environment for over 50 years. At the end of the Trump administration, he had the EPA change the determinations for what would be protected, exempting a significant portion of previously-protected waters in order to prioritize economic development. The Trump rules were then thrown out by a Federal judge that said they'd cause significant environmental harm.
The rules created under Biden are consistent with the governing Clean Water rules that had existed before the Trump presidency. Notwithstanding that history, development and mining industry lobbyists - including those associated with Molinaro - have made an aggressive attempt to return to the Trump rules invalidated by Federal courts.
Molinaro voted FOR the resolution, and for a return to the weaker Trump-era regulations. This bill passed by a largely party-line vote, 227-198, with a handful of Democrats voting FOR, and moderate Republican Brian Fitzpatrick voting AGAINST.
Molinaro had voted FOR the same resolution in committee, which passed there in a largely party-line vote of 30-24 .
In 2022, the Department of Labor published a rule that managers of retirement investment plans could consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors when choosing investments for plan members. Although "ESG" is a relatively new term, it's not a new concept - retirement managers have invested using "socially responsible" strategies for decades, which are similar.
The Republican challenge to this rule is partly borne from classic partisan objections to environmental protection and improved corporate governance standards. However, more fundamentally, their opposition is based in ESG investing's general avoidance of shares in mining, weapons and tobacco companies - all large components of the Republican donor base. In fact, Marc Molinaro's largest individual corporate donor is an oil and gas corporation.
Debate centered around Republican arguments that investment decisions should be entirely fiduciary, and ESG factors are a distraction. However, as illustrated above, ESG stocks actually deliver better returns on both a medium- and long-term basis. A vote for the bill is a vote against better investment performance for retirees.
This resolution passed by a party-line vote, 216-204. Molinaro voted FOR this bill.
H.Res. 76, which removes Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, is widely understood to be a retaliation bill for the removal of Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene from committees in the prior congress. Gosar was penalized for Twitter posts that depicted the murder of a Congresswoman, and Greene was removed for calling for Speaker Nancy Pelosi's execution, as well as trafficking in Qanon, racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric prior to her election.
The resolution condemns statements Omar has made in the past as either anti-Semitic or anti-Israel. Molinaro voted FOR the resolution to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee. He defended the vote in a comment to the Daily Freeman that her prior comments about Jews and Israel were disqualifying.
However, Omar has apologized for comments that were seen as anti-Semitic, which appears to have resolved any tensions with the broad Jewish community, as the resolution for her removal was opposed by almost all Jewish members of Congress. The Jewish community has been far more critical of Marjorie Taylor Greene's appearance at a conference hosted by neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes last year - a controversy Molinaro has never expressed concern over.
Omar has not generally retreated from her criticisms of Israel, which would not appear to be cause for removal from committees, as members of the Foreign Affairs committee - like fellow New York Republican Claudia Tenney - frequently criticize both allies and adversaries.
Molinaro received some criticism of his own on his Facebook post that defended his vote, and this appears to be another circumstance where he's fallen in line with the edges of the party instead of navigating a moderate path. The resolution passed on an entirely party-line vote. As mentioned above, Molinaro voted FOR this bill.
For more background, read: The GOP Attack on Ilhan Omar Trivializes Antisemitism
Widely derided as political theatrics. H.Con.Res. 9 condemns several historical leaders of socialist or communist countries and denounces socialism in America.
In half-hearted debate, opponents pointed out that leaders of some of America's greatest allies were socialist, including the Allies of World War II and Israel. Additionally, observers wondered aloud whether the final line of the resolution, "That Congress . . . opposes the implementation of socialist policies in the United States of America" was part of the expected attack on Social Security and Medicare by Republicans.
Molinaro voted FOR this bill, which passed. He later tweeted attacks on those opposed to 2023's strangest resolution to date. He was mocked by constituents for the post and did not respond further.
Under current law, medical practitioners and other employees providing services to patients under Medicare and Medicaid are required to be Covid-19 vaccinated, unless they have a medical exemption. These regulations were enacted to protect those patients who might be in the care of a hospital, nursing home or under professional home care. The rule was additionally implemented to help save the lives and mitigate the deficit of medical providers across the country, as that community was hit with infection. This bill would end the vaccine requirement and prohibit one in the future.
Debate on this bill was fraught with vaccine disinformation and anti-vaxxer sentiment from the Republican supporters, and passed on a largely party-line vote. Molinaro voted FOR this bill.
H.R. 382 would terminate the state of emergency that was instituted under the former President to handle Covid. This bill was moot due to President Biden's prior announcement that the state of emergency would be lifted mid-year to allow for a careful and efficient realignment of pandemic services (including the movement of millions of Americans off of Medicaid), but Republican sponsors decided to move the bill for immediate termination nonetheless.
This was the first time Molinaro spoke on the floor of the House, and you can read his comments in the record above (click to enlarge). Constituents will immediately recognize the tone and message, and critics would note his lack of recognition that the state of emergency was already in the process of being lifted. Molinaro voted FOR this bill, which passed along party lines.
This vote was taken to accelerate and consolidate voting for several Covid-related bills Molinaro voted FOR the resolution twice in party-line votes. He also voted against two motions to send the day's legislation to committee for review, also resolved in party-line votes.
Today concluded voting on amendments to the Strategic Production Response Act (H.R. 21), and a vote was taken on the bill itself. As noted, this bill is largely a messaging platform and is highly unlikely to be passed into law. In summary, H.R. 21 requires the Federal government to increase the amount of public land available to lease for oil and gas extraction in the same percentage as any drawdown in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). It is seen as an attack on President Biden's decision to use SPR oil to help decrease U.S. gas prices when they were at their peak. If this bill were to pass, it could increase energy prices in the short term.
All amendments that were voted on January 27 are listed at the bottom of this post. Congressman Molinaro voted "NO" on each, except for one vote that he skipped. Since Molinaro did not support any amendments, it's difficult to understand his analysis, but it is worth noting that Molinaro opposed amendments to:
He voted FOR the bill itself.
No. 67 - Eliminates the requirement to issue new leases on federal land if oil producers export more petroleum than was drawn down from the SPR. This helps to keep supply in the US high and prevent oil companies sending production from new Federal leases overseas. On keeping American energy for use in America, MOLINARO VOTED NO
Nos. 63, 81 - Requires that the Secretary of Energy publish an analysis of the number of unused current leases available to oil and gas drillers on Federal land prior to issuance of new leases that would remove more land from public use. The amendment sponsor identified 9,000 unused leases on 26 million acres of public land. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 24 - Prohibits new H.R. 21 drilling leases within 3,200 feet of a home, school or hospital. On the question of protecting these areas, MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 135 - Prohibits new H.R. 21 drilling leases on the Outer Continental Shelf off the coast of New York and neighboring states. MOLINARO VOTED NO on protecting these waters.
No. 145 - Prohibits new H.R. 21 drilling leases on protected lands, such as National Parks, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and national conservation areas. MOLINARO VOTED NO on protecting these lands.
No. 92 - Prevents oil and gas companies that participated in price gouging in 2021-2022 from acquiring leases offered under H.R. 21. MOLINARO VOTED NO on the amendment, choosing to permit these companies to acquire H.R. 21 leases.
No. 58 - Requires that the Secretary of Energy determine that any delay in releasing SPR oil due to new rules in H.R. 21 does not negatively impact consumers who use oil to heat their homes. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 46 - Permits immediate SPR drawdowns to protect national security. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 59 - States that nothing in H.R. 21 prohibits the President from drawing petroleum from the SPR to reduce gas prices. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 60 - Ensures that H.R. 21 does not increase consumer gas prices by causing a delay in a release from the SPR. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 77 - Allows an SPR release without delay if a delay would increase inflation. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 36 - Permits the SPR to continue to conduct test releases to maintain readiness. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 74 - Excludes any companies that have executed stock buybacks in the last ten years from participating in H.R. 21 lease purchases. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 131 - Prohibits the sale of H.R. 21 drilling leases in the Great Lakes, which - to this point - have been protected from oil and gas production. MOLINARO SKIPPED THE VOTE
Nos. 72 and 73 - Requiring that this bill support U.S. environmental goals and not increase its greenhouse gas emissions. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 66 - Requires that any oil and gas company that secures a new lease under this bill would provide a plan for reducing pollution and greenhouse gases. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 32 - Requires that the Secretary of Energy determine H.R. 21 would not increase energy prices for U.S. consumers. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 35 - Ensures that the SPR will continue to provide short-term "loans" of oil during temporary disruptions that are quickly replaced. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 61 - Permits SPR drawdowns that are profitable and eliminates requirements for new leases in those cases. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 84 - Requires the Secretary of Energy certifiy that any new leases will not "perpetuate environmental injustice." MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 76 - States that nothing in H.R. 21 controverts "the fact that communities of color and low-wealth communities face the greatest harms due to climate change." MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 70 - Prohibits new H.R. 21 drilling leases in the offshore Mid-Atlantic planning area. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 75 - Prohibits new H.R. 21 drilling leases in Big Cypress National Preserve. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 27 - Prohibits new H.R. 21 drilling leases on the Outer Continental Shelf. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 79 - Prohibits new H.R. 21 drilling leases off the Washington/Oregon coast is they would affect fishing areas. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 68 - Limits new H.R. 21 drilling leases to oil only, and not natural gas. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 25 - Excludes land from H.R. 21 leasing that is unlikely to have oil or gas deposits. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 68 - Prohibits oil companies from exercising certain tax benefits and participating in H.R. 21 lease purchases. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 64 - Encourages the Department of Energy to restock the SPR with oil produced domestically. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 4 - Prohibits H.R. 21 drilling leases in areas that have significant numbers of abandoned oil and gas wells that still require remediation. MOLINARO VOTED NO
Today's voting activity was entirely comprised of votes on amendments to H.R. 21 - The Strategic Production Response Act. This bill is largely a messaging platform and is highly unlikely to be passed into law. In summary, H.R. 21 requires the Federal government to increase the amount of public land available to lease for oil and gas extraction in the same percentage as any drawdown in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). It is seen as an attack on President Biden's decision to use SPR oil to help decrease U.S. gas prices when they were at their peak.
The bill is problematic in a number of ways, including the fact that there is substantial unexploited Federal land already available for oil and gas production, the fact it carves out exceptions for severe emergencies (which circumstances around the war in Ukraine would likely qualify) and the fact that the percentage drawdown in SPR and percentage increase in leasable land are two numbers that have no logical connection to each other.
Below are all of the amendments that were voted on January 26. Additional amendments are scheduled for January 27.
No. 71 - Requiring that this bill support U.S. environmental goals and not undermine the country from meeting its greenhouse gas reduction target. On the question of supporting climate goals, MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 33 - Proposed by Congresswoman Boebert, this amendment expands the amount of Federal land made available for drilling under this legislation from 300 million acres to 450 million acres. For perspective, New York state is approximately 35 million acres in size. On the question of increasing drillable land to 450 million acres, MOLINARO VOTED YES
No. 89 - Prohibits any party awarded new drilling leases under H.R. 21 from price gouging U.S. consumers by selling new production at excessive prices. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 104 - Proposed by New Jersey Congressman Pallone, prohibits new H.R. 21 drilling leases from the coastline area of Northeastern states including New York due to the dangers to the fishing and tourism industries, and lack of public support. On the question of protecting the New York coastline, MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 3 - Proposed by Florida Congresswoman Castor, prohibits new H.R. 21 drilling leases from the coastline area of Florida, which has been the subject of a drilling moratorium for several years. Florida citizens reaffirmed their opposition to drilling in a recent state referendum. On the question of protecting the Florida coastline, MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 65 - This amendment would prohibit any new leases awarded under this legislation from decreasing the land and water available for outdoor recreation. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 21 - Prohibits any leases awarded under H.R. 21 that would not provide a fair return for taxpayers. On the question of protecting taxpayers from "sweetheart" deals for drillers, MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 50 - Requires that the Secretary of Energy certify that increased drilling leases are required to replenish the SPR to 2022 levels before awarding H.R. 21 leases. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 53 - Would prohibit leases that would lead to higher greenhouse gas emissions. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 55 - Would require consultation with Native American tribes for drilling that would impact their land. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 129 - Limits new leases on Federal land to those operations that would not negatively impact air quality. On the question of protecting air quality, MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 133 - Affirms that this law would not invalidate existing drilling moratoriums. MOLINARO VOTED YES
No. 2 - Prohibits the President from declaring an energy crisis. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 44 - Delays implementation of this bill until the Department of Energy furnishes a report. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 29 - Prohibits new H.R. 21 drilling leases from the coastline area of Virginia. MOLINARO VOTED NO
Nos. 15, 26 and 18 - Prohibits new H.R. 21 drilling leases from the coastline area of Northern, Central and Southern California. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 7 - Prohibits new H.R. 21 drilling leases from the coastline area of Washington and Oregon. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 56 - Prohibits new leasing that would result in or exacerbate disproportionate burdens on communities of color, low-income communities, and Tribal and Indigenous communities. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 57 - Prohibits leasing new land that is viable for renewable energy production. MOLINARO VOTED NO
No. 85 and 86 - Requires that the Secretary of Energy ensure that China, Russia, Iran and North Korea do not benefit from leases granted under H.R. 21. MOLINARO VOTED YES
Molinaro voted FOR this bill that looks to undermine the availability of abortions in New York and other states. It is a violation of his stated promise that he would not support legislation that superseded or conflicted with New York's existing laws. Molinaro has said to the press that accusations he'd vote for abortion-restricting laws are "lies" since he believes regulation of abortion must be left to the states.
As background, this bill regulates a practice that is essentially nonexistent. It seeks to ensure that "infants born alive after an abortion receive the same protection of law and degree of care as any newborn." Most news reports about this issue report that experts have never heard of any case similar to those prohibited by the bill.
It's fair to say that three days into his first week, Molinaro has breached the most critical of his campaign promises, and broke any trust built with constituents who believed that he would legislate as "a moderate" on abortion.
Molinaro voted FOR this resolution that has no legislative impact. It is largely a list of vandalization reports at anti-abortion centers, political offices and two churches. The bill suggests that these events are explicitly or implicitly connected to protests of the Dobbs decision restricting abortion.
The resolution is otherwise innocuous, except for unnecessary poison pills that are likely insulting to many in the NY-19 District. The resolution disparages pro-choice Americans as "anti-life," criticizing "radical anti-life advocates." The resolution also contains the language: ". . . recognizes the sanctity of life and the important role pro-life facilities, groups, and churches play in supporting pregnant women, infants, and families;" Of course, those Americans who seek to protect choice do not believe that "pro-life groups" who seek to eliminate the right to abortion "[support] pregnant women, infants, and families." And "sanctity of life" is a well-known phrase co-opted to mean "anti-abortion."
Molinaro voted FOR the "Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party" in a widely expected vote that was voted unanimously by Republicans and drew support from most Democrats.
Molinaro voted FOR this highly partisan Jim Jordan-led committee, which is expected to attempt to undermine ongoing DOJ/FBI investigations, including those concerning Republican members of Congress who were engaged in the insurrection on January 6 and subsequently sought pardons from former President Trump. It will oppose domestic terrorism investigations and also has a mandate to undermine the CIA and IRS.
Cosponsored by Marjorie Taylor Green and defended on the floor by "Chaos Caucus" members Lauren Boebert, Dan Bishop, Chip Roy, Scott Perry, Thomas Massie and Andrew Clyde, this was a concession made to the far-right McCarthy holdouts. This vote was the first that Molinaro made for the MAGA/Qanon sect of his conference.
Molinaro voted FOR the House Rules Package, which contains some procedural and benign components, but also some very consequential and controversial aspects.
In particular, the Package calls for interference in DOJ prosecutions of Trump and other participants in anti-democracy crimes; weakening the ethics committee; likely partisan attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci, vaccine researchers and other health officials; and expedited floor votes on anti-abortion legislation.
Many of these elements are items he campaigned against, others are contrary to the consensus views of the 19th District. This was Molinaro's first partisan vote.
The first bill brought to the House floor in the 118th Congress was HR 23, which would rescind funding previously provided to the IRS to improve technology, enhance customer service, hire employees across the organization to replace retirements and improve enforcement for underpaying/nonpaying high income and corporate filers. Molinaro voted FOR this bill.
The nonpartisan congressional budget office determined that this bill would increase the Federal deficit by over $100 billion.
Congressman Molinaro and others have misled constituents about the IRS funding, falsely claiming that it would be used to hire 87,000 IRS agents, or increase audits on the middle class. That's been consistently debunked.
While Molinaro was expected to support this bill due to his misrepresentations (or misunderstandings) of the previously-passed IRS funding, HR 23 betrays his campaign promises to advocate for reduced deficits and balanced budgets.