GOP Rep. Proposes Crackdown on Foreign State Media

Rep. Jack Bergman, a Republican of Michigan, proposed new legislation on Wednesday that mandates state-sponsored media outlets stationed at Capitol Hill to follow the Act of Foreign Agents Registration, as well as other pertinent laws of the United States.

Republican lawmakers propose bill to regulate foreign media organizations

Bergman’s proposed bill is a reaction to a letter he wrote last month to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, regarding Qatar’s Media Network named Al Jazeera.

Bergman, who chairs Intelligence of Armed Services at the House, as well as the Subcommittee of Special Operations, aims to ensure that AJMN and other state-sponsored media organizations operating on Capitol Hill adhere to relevant U.S. laws.

Two other Republican lawmakers joined Bergman in this action and called for an immediate suspension of the press credentials of Qatar’s Media Network, with the suspension continuing until Qatar, as well as its propaganda, follows the Registration Act.

In the letter, Bergman pointed out that Al Jazeera had press credentials for 136 employees, surpassing the 82 credentials provided for employees of the New York Times who have similar access.

The correspondence additionally underscored the significance of the access that credentialed members of the House and Senate galleries have to the U.S. Capitol, senators, members of Congress, and staffers, which is critical for the media to deliver precise reporting to the American public.

However, the letter also acknowledged that foreign powers covet this access as it provides them with the opportunity to obtain sensitive information from Congress.

Bergman proposes additional regulations amidst concerns about espionage activities

In addition to the requirement to comply with cited act, Bergman’s proposed legislation sets two additional rules.

The first one puts a limit of ten press credentials for any eligible media outlet based outside of the United States, as well as its affiliated organizations. The second requirement mandates all individuals asking for credentials should first go through an FBI background check.

Bergman’s bill highlights that several foreign adversaries, such as Russia, China, and Qatar, have a previous history of sending spies to the United States.

According to a press release, Bergman explained that foreign state-sponsored media outlets from countries like Russia, Qatar, and China could conceal their intelligence operatives in plain sight in the U.S. Capitol.

The letter also emphasized that the credentialed members of the House and Senate galleries have unparalleled entry to the U.S. Capitol and its various public figures. This is important for the press to provide truthful news.

Nonetheless, the letter recognized that foreign powers aiming to obtain sensitive information from Congress are eager to gain this access.

Bergman’s office highlighted the significance of the proposed legislation by offering several cases of Russia, China, and Qatar engaging in espionage activities against Americans within the United States.