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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 Democrats elect Meeks as first Black Foreign Affairs chairman House Hispanic Republicans welcome four new members MORE (R-Fla.) and Brad SchneiderBradley (Brad) Scott SchneiderBlue Dogs push for further action on domestic terrorism Growing extremist threats put more pressure on Biden Capitol insurrection fallout: A PATRIOT Act 2.0? 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 RubioGOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Hillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships Senators introduce bill creating technology partnerships to compete with China MORE (R-Fla.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenLawmakers gird for spending battle over nuclear weapons Biden convenes bipartisan meeting on cancer research Lobbying world 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 TrumpUS, South Korea reach agreement on cost-sharing for troops Graham: Trump can make GOP bigger, stronger, or he 'could destroy it' Biden nominates female generals whose promotions were reportedly delayed under Trump 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.