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.
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.
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 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.