Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz suggested a Commerce Department, Obama appointee could be subject to jail time Wednesday for using federal funds to advance what Republicans describe as the administration’s “handover” of oversight of the internet domain name system.
During a Judiciary subcommittee hearing Wednesday Cruz convened to examine the transition, set to take place Oct. 1, the Texas senator said Commerce Department employees including Larry Strickling, an assistant secretary in the department, may have violated federal law by using funds to work on facilitating the transition — activity Congress barred it from doing in an appropriations rider last year.
“These legal prohibitions have been passed into law by Congress and signed by the president,” Cruz told Strickling, a witness called to testify during Wednesday’s hearing. “If your superiors direct you to do it and you carry out those orders, under the Antideficiency Act you are risking personal criminal liability of up to two years in prison.”
While the rider blocked the transition from taking place, Strickling argued a previous rider from 2014 instructed the department to “conduct a thorough review and analysis” of the transition before it moves to “relinquish the responsibility” over the internet’s backbone functions, like assigning internet protocol addresses, overseeing domain names like .com and .org and acting as the roadmap guiding devices to websites.
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