skip to main content

S. 264 (115th): The Free Speech Fairness Act

About the bill

Should churches be able to endorse candidates or political parties and retain their tax-exempt status?


Since 1954, churches and other religious or nonprofit organizations have been banned from endorsing political candidates or parties from the pulpit, or else they are supposed to lose their tax-exempt status. It’s called the Johnson Amendment.

During negotiations over the Republican tax reform bill of 2017, the House-passed version repealed the Johnson Amendment entirely, while the Senate bill kept it intact. During the reconciliation process, in which the two distinct versions would be combined into a final version and likely become law, Senate Democrats used an obscure provision known as the Byrd Rule allowing them to challenge the applicability of any portion of the tax reform bill not directly dealing with taxes.

The …

Sponsor and status

James Lankford

Sponsor. Senator for Oklahoma. Republican.

Read Text »
Last Updated: Feb 1, 2017
Length: 3 pages
Feb 1, 2017
115th Congress (2017–2019)
Died in a previous Congress

This bill was introduced on February 1, 2017, in a previous session of Congress, but it did not receive a vote.

Although this bill was not enacted, its provisions could have become law by being included in another bill. It is common for legislative text to be introduced concurrently in multiple bills (called companion bills), re-introduced in subsequent sessions of Congress in new bills, or added to larger bills (sometimes called omnibus bills).


5 Cosponsors (5 Republicans)



Feb 1, 2017

Bills and resolutions are referred to committees which debate the bill before possibly sending it on to the whole chamber.

S. 264 (115th) was a bill in the United States Congress.

A bill must be passed by both the House and Senate in identical form and then be signed by the President to become law.

Bills numbers restart every two years. That means there are other bills with the number S. 264. This is the one from the 115th Congress.

This bill was introduced in the 115th Congress, which met from Jan 3, 2017 to Jan 3, 2019. Legislation not passed by the end of a Congress is cleared from the books.

How to cite this information.

We recommend the following MLA-formatted citation when using the information you see here in academic work:

“S. 264 — 115th Congress: The Free Speech Fairness Act.” 2017. September 30, 2023 <>

Where is this information from?

GovTrack automatically collects legislative information from a variety of governmental and non-governmental sources. This page is sourced primarily from, the official portal of the United States Congress. is generally updated one day after events occur, and so legislative activity shown here may be one day behind. Data via the congress project.