WASHINGTON, D.C.—House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and his colleagues, Reps. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), Mike Johnson (R-La.), and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), offered the Free Speech Fairness Act as an amendment to H.R. 1 in an effort to restore free speech rights to 501(c)(3) organizations, including houses of worship, who are currently barred from making statements on political issues lest they become subject to an audit from the IRS and a loss of tax-exempt status.
Whip Scalise made the following statement after Democrat leaders refused to allow a vote on the amendment:
“The Democrat Politician Protection Act is not ‘For the People.’ It is an attempt to rewrite the rules in favor of the Democratic Party by instituting greater regulations on Americans’ First Amendment rights. While my colleagues and I sought to reduce government censorship of protected speech by offering the Free Speech Fairness Act as an amendment to H.R. 1, the Democrats in a clear display of their partisan motivations chose to ignore any real and substantive electoral reforms.
“Instead, H.R. 1 only expands the government’s role by turning the Federal Elections Commission into a ‘speech czar’ with the power to enforce Democrats’ vague definition of ‘campaign-related speech,’ a clear encroachment on Americans’ right to freely express their opinions on political issues and candidates. Adding the Free Speech Fairness Act to this bill could have ended the federal government’s practice of silencing churches and other nonprofits who engage in our democracy. Unfortunately, it has been clear from the beginning that Democrats rushed H.R. 1 through the committee markup process because they have no interest in working with Republicans on bipartisan solutions like our amendment.
“Contrary to their claims, this bill is not about promoting election fairness and participation. Democrats are simply eroding American freedoms to suit an agenda that only seems to benefit them, not the American people.”