House Democrats seek to block funds for ‘defeat despair’ Covid ads

House Democrats seek to block funds for ‘defeat despair’ Covid ads

House Democrats overseeing the Trump administration’s coronavirus response will introduce a largely symbolic bill intended to limit the administration’s ability to spend federal funds on certain coronavirus-related advertisements before the election, according to a draft shared first with POLITICO.

The Defeat Pandemic Propaganda Act of 2020 is authored by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), joined by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y), Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). The Democrats’ bill would bar HHS from using taxpayer funds on an ad campaign to “positively influence public perception regarding the Covid–19 pandemic,” specifically distort any facts or encourage risky behaviors amid the outbreak.

“[F]ederally-funded advertisements meant to cast the situation in a positive light or suggest there is no longer a need to take public health precautions would be wholly unethical, especially in the weeks before a presidential election,” Krishnamoorthi said in a statement. A spokesperson for Krishnamoorthi acknowledged the difficulty of moving such legislation forward in a split Congress weeks before the election.