RELEASE: Rep. Cloud Votes No on Bill with Free Speech Concerns

May 02, 2024
Press

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX) released the following statement regarding his NO vote on H.R. 6090, a bill supposed to deal with antisemitism but one that raised significant Constitutional concerns.

In the wake of deeply disturbing demonstrations at universities across the country, involving threats to Jewish students, desecrating American flags, and even blocking Jewish professors and students from attending class, Congress has sought ways to deal with the rise of antisemitism – particularly on college campuses. While Rep. Cloud has argued this should raise even more significant issues — like whether taxpayers should be funding universities that both tolerate and encourage this behavior — Congress has pursued ways to rein in unlawful, sometimes violent protests occurring under the guise of “free speech.” 

Unfortunately, while H.R. 6090 may have been well intentioned, it contained overly broad language that raised significant concerns under the First Amendment. It included multiple references to “hate speech” and even some biblical references, taking an overly broad approach to limiting speech. While hateful comments and violent rhetoric are certainly wrong — toward Jewish people or anyone — conservatives in the House sought to make sure the bill was truly limited and couldn’t be used as another speech-policing vehicle out of Washington D.C.

Sadly, as negotiations were occurring and making progress, House leadership chose to ignore rank and file members and schedule an immediate vote on the bill anyway. So while there could have been a brief delay while members worked on addressing free speech concerns, leadership chose to steamroll their own members. This amounted to both content and process concerns on the bill. For those reasons, Rep. Cloud voted NO.

Rep. Cloud released the following statement on his vote:

“Today the House voted on something labeled an ‘Antisemitism Awareness’ bill — but truthfully, it was a bill playing Washington games with a very serious issue. It included several provisions labeling things “hate speech,” a common term used by the left to patrol religious speech protected under the First Amendment, and was so broad it even inadvertently included Scripture. Believe it or not, under this bill, you could be accused of “antisemitism” for citing Biblical passages which talk about Jesus’ crucifixion. That is wrong and makes no sense. To make matters worse, as we were negotiating these issues and looking to iron them out, House leadership steamrolled us and scheduled the vote anyway. This could’ve been resolved amongst rank-and-file members if leadership didn’t step in and squash the process.

What’s happening towards our Jewish brothers and sisters is awful and should be dealt with. Frankly, I’ve been pushing Congress to defund and tax endowments from universities that churn out this kind of ridiculous behavior. This is indicative of a much bigger problem and a sickness with our country that leaders need to deal with head-on. But playing leftist games and labeling things “hate speech” not only runs afoul of the First Amendment, it pretends we’re doing something useful when we really aren’t.

I voted no. I hope and pray my colleagues will one day use our leverage to solve this problem and the myriad of other problems America faces… not pass legislation like this.”

Ultimately, the bill passed 320-91, with 21 Republicans voting NO. Rep. Cloud has continued to reiterate prayers for peace in the Middle East and has strongly supported Israel and their right to defend themselves against attacks.

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