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-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Brad Schneider (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. 

{mosads}Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Van Hollen (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 Trump 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.

Tags Brad Schneider Brad Schneider Chris Van Hollen cybersecurity Donald Trump Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Marco Rubio Russian meddling in the 2016 election

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