House

Dems propose sanctions for foreign election meddling

Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee have introduced legislation that would impose sanctions on foreign entities that try to interfere in U.S. elections.

The measure proposes barring U.S. entry to people involved in election meddling and freezing their assets in an attempt to deter other countries from trying to follow the example apparently set by Russia in the 2016 elections. Intelligence agencies have concluded the Russian government was behind hacks of Democratic campaign organizations as part of an effort to weaken Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency.

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“It sends a clear message that the United States won’t stand quietly by as Russia or any other foreign power tries to undermine our democracy,” Rep. Eliot Engel (N.Y.), the committee’s top Democrat, said in a statement on Wednesday. 

All 19 Democratic members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee signed on to the bill. So far it does not have any Republican cosponsors.

Introduction of the bill came as the U.S. government issued a new wave of sanctions this week against Russian companies and businessmen as part of the international dispute over Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

The House held its last votes of the year on Dec. 8, meaning the legislation won’t be considered before the current session of Congress ends. Engel and the rest of the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Democrats will have to re-introduce the bill when the new Congress begins on Jan. 3. 

President-elect Donald Trump continues to reject intelligence agencies’ conclusion that the Russian government ordered the hacks of the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. 

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) both support investigating Russia’s role in the election, but have resisted calls for a commission or select committee to probe the matter. They’ve instead maintained that the House and Senate Intelligence Committees should handle a review of Russian hacking.

A bipartisan group of four senators, including incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), urged McConnell this week to support creating a new temporary select committee on cybersecurity. They argued that a stand-alone panel would ensure a comprehensive investigation because multiple Senate committees have some jurisdiction over cybersecurity issues. 

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump Hillary Clinton John McCain Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan

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