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House Democrats introduce new legislation to combat foreign election interference

House Democrats introduce new legislation to combat foreign election interference
© Greg Nash

A group of House Democrats led by Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenWhy prevailing wage reform matters for H-1B visas Fears grow of voter suppression in Texas Business groups start gaming out a Biden administration MORE (Calif.) on Tuesday introduced new legislation aimed at combating foreign efforts to interfere in U.S. elections.

The SHIELD Act would require campaigns to report “illicit offers” of election assistance from foreign governments or individuals to both the FBI and the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and also take steps to ensure that political advertisements on social media are subject to the same stricter rules as ads on television or radio. 

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The bill classifies the “offering of non-public campaign material to foreign governments and those linked with foreign governments and their agents as an illegal solicitation of support,” while also closing gaps that allow foreign investment in aspects of U.S. elections. 

The bill is also sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMarijuana stocks see boost after Harris debate comments Jewish lawmakers targeted by anti-Semitic tweets ahead of election: ADL Democrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court MORE (D-N.Y.), along with Reps. John SarbanesJohn Peter Spyros SarbanesBottom line Congress must finish work on popular conservation bill before time runs out Congress must enact a plan to keep government workers safe MORE (D-Md.), Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerHillicon Valley: House panel says Intelligence Community not equipped to address Chinese threats | House approves bill to send cyber resources to state, local governments House approves legislation to send cybersecurity resources to state, local governments Is Congress reasserting itself? MORE (D-Wash.), Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyDemocrats scramble on COVID-19 relief amid division, Trump surprise Bank lobbying group launches ad backing Collins reelection bid House Democrats call on State Department for information on Uighur prisoner Ekpar Asat MORE (D-Fla.), Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinCongress must repeal tax breaks for the wealthy passed in CARES Act COVID-19 and the problem of presidential succession Warren, Porter to headline progressive fundraiser supporting seven swing state candidates MORE (D-Md.), Susan DavisSusan Carol DavisOvernight Defense: Congress recommends nuclear arms treaty be extended | Dems warn Turkey | Military's eighth COVID death identified Bipartisan congressional task force recommends extending nuclear treaty with Russia The Hill's Campaign Report: Minneapolis protests rock the nation MORE (D-Calif.), G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeOfficials urge social media groups to weed out election disinformation targeting minority voters Letter from Trump taking credit for aid now mandated in government food boxes: report This week: House returns for pre-election sprint MORE (D-Ohio), Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarOn The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Anxious Democrats amp up pressure for vote on COVID-19 aid Rep. Robin Kelly enters race for Democratic caucus vice chair MORE (D-Calif.), A. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden pledges carbon-free power by 2035 in T environment plan | Trump administration has been underestimating costs of carbon pollution, government watchdog finds | Trump to move forward with rollback of bedrock environmental law Trump to move forward with rollback of bedrock environmental law Sanders-Biden climate task force calls for carbon-free power by 2035 MORE (D-Va.) and Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiPhil Murphy says no coronavirus outbreaks in New Jersey linked to Trump fundraiser Marjorie Taylor Greene spars with GOP lawmaker over QAnon, antifa Hillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones MORE (D-N.J.).

Lofgren in a statement heavily criticized President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign slams Facebook after thousands of ads blocked by platform's pre-election blackout Mnuchin says he learned of Pelosi's letter to him about stimulus talks 'in the press' Harris to travel to Texas Friday after polls show tie between Trump, Biden MORE and his administration for “welcoming” foreign interference in U.S. elections. 

“The Trump campaign and White House have welcomed and repeatedly solicited foreign assistance for his political activities,” Lofgren said. “This behavior is unacceptable, and it is telling that the White House has gone to great lengths to hide it from the American people.”

The House Administration Committee has played a major role in the election security debate in the House since the start of the new Congress. The committee has approved both the For the People Act, which includes sweeping election security and reform language, and the SAFE Act, which aims to improve the security of voting infrastructure.    

The House passed both bills along party lines earlier this year and sent them to the Senate, where Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMnuchin says he learned of Pelosi's letter to him about stimulus talks 'in the press' On The Money: Trump makes a late pitch on the economy | US economy records record GDP gains after historic COVID-19 drop | Pelosi eyes big COVID-19 deal in lame duck Lawmakers say infrastructure efforts are falling victim to deepening partisan divide MORE (R-Ky.) has blocked them from consideration citing concerns around federalizing elections and language that does not pertain to election security. 

Sarbanes, the primary sponsor of the For the People Act and the chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, warned in a statement on Tuesday that “foreign adversaries attacked our elections in 2016 and they’re coming for us again in 2020.” 

Sarbanes urged action to pass both the SHIELD Act and the other House-passed measures, noting that “Senate Republicans and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must take up these critical national security bills as soon as possible. There’s no time to waste.”

The SHIELD Act was introduced the same day the Senate Intelligence Committee released the second of its reports on Russian interference efforts during the 2016 election, with volume two focused on Russian social media disinformation campaigns.

The committee recommended steps for Congress, President Trump, and social media companies to take to prevent the spread of disinformation in the upcoming 2020 elections, and found that Russian actors, at the direction of the Kremlin, engaged in a far-reaching disinformation campaign in the lead-up to the 2016 elections.