Dems want to boost FBI budget to fight Russia’s election interference
Congressional Democratic leadership wants to boost the FBI’s budget in next month’s government funding bill to help fight Russian interference in the 2018 midterm elections.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), as well as top Democrats on the House and Senate Appropriations committees, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) urging them to support the increase.
“These attacks and Putin’s ongoing efforts to again interfere in our upcoming elections demand a robust and urgent response, and Congress must respond immediately to attacks on our democracy by a foreign adversary,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote in the letter.
They are asking for a $300 million increase in the FBI’s budget to help target and counteract the influence of Russian and other foreign officials.
“This additional funding should be targeted to ensure the resources and manpower to counter the influence of hostile foreign actors operating in the U.S., especially Russian operatives operating on our social media platforms,” they wrote in the letter.
They also want additional money for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Congress has until March 23 to pass the mammoth spending bill, known as an omnibus.
Schumer declined to say in a separate call with reporters on Wednesday if Democrats would oppose the funding bill if the extra money for the intelligence community isn’t included.
“We’re not drawing lines in the sand. We’re going to push hard to get this funding,” he said.
In addition to the extra funding, Schumer and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) separately sent a letter to Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, and Kirstjen Nielsen, the DHS secretary, asking for them to release a public report detailing how Russia is trying to interfere in the 2018 elections.
They also want them to update relevant congressional committees about any threats to the U.S. election system.
“The least we can do is ensure that state election officials – the people on the front lines of our democratic process – have the information they need to combat threats. This is vital to protecting our national security against cyberattacks,” they wrote.
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