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House lawmakers introduce bill to deter election meddling

House lawmakers introduce bill to deter election meddling
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A Senate bill aimed at deterring future foreign interference in U.S. elections now has a bipartisan counterpart in the House.

Reps. Ileana Ros-LehtinenIleana Carmen Ros-LehtinenBottom line Bottom line Democrats elect Meeks as first Black Foreign Affairs chairman MORE (R-Fla.) and Brad SchneiderBradley (Brad) Scott SchneiderAmerica's Jewish communities are under attack — Here are 3 things Congress can do Lawmakers demand justice for Adam Toledo: 'His hands were up. He was unarmed' Democrats see opportunity in GOP feud with business MORE (D-Ill.) have introduced the House version of the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act, which would impose penalties on Russia or other foreign powers that engage in efforts to interfere in U.S. elections. 

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Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDemocrats cool on Crist's latest bid for Florida governor Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (R-Fla.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenThe Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel Is America slipping to autocracy? Trade representative says policy must protect key industries MORE (D-Md.) introduced the original bill in the Senate earlier this month.

"Russian efforts to undermine U.S. leadership and interests know no boundaries, including at home,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. “Russia blatantly meddled in our 2016 elections, as well as previous elections, in an attempt to erode public trust in our electoral process and undermine our democratic institutions. It will undoubtedly do so again.”

The bill lays out specific actions that would warrant retaliation, including a foreign power or agent buying political advertisements to sway an election, spreading false information through social media and hacking into election or campaign infrastructure and releasing or modifying information obtained through the hack. 

The legislation spells out specific penalties for Moscow, drawing on legislation that Congress passed and President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE signed last summer to sanction Russia for its behavior. The bill directs the administration to decide on specific retaliatory measures for nations like China, Iran or North Korea. 

The U.S. intelligence community said last January that Russia waged an influence operation against the 2016 election, which Moscow has denied. The revelations have sparked fears that Russia or another foreign power could similarly meddle in future elections. 

On Friday, Schneider emphasized that the 2018 midterm elections are not far away. 

“With fewer than ten months to our next national election and mere weeks before the first state primaries, the clock is ticking. Unless we act now, we will be increasingly vulnerable to the Russians' next attacks,” Schneider said in a statement.