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 LofgrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit Biden to raise refugee cap to 125,000 in October Republicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally 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 NadlerMore than 200 women, transgender inmates to be transferred from Rikers Island Alabama using COVID funds to build new prisons — is that Biden's vision? Alabama clears plan to use COVID-19 relief funds to build prisons MORE (D-N.Y.), along with Reps. John SarbanesJohn Peter Spyros SarbanesDemocrats push to shield election workers from violent threats   Rep. Bush drives calls for White House action on eviction moratorium lapse Chesapeake Bay's health increases slightly to a C MORE (D-Md.), Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerProgressives cheer, moderates groan as Biden visit caps chaotic week  Democratic factions dig in, threatening fate of infrastructure vote Lawmakers using leadership PACs as 'slush funds' to live lavish lifestyles: report MORE (D-Wash.), Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyDemocratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push MORE (D-Fla.), Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinJan. 6 panel votes to hold Bannon in contempt The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Political crosscurrents persist for Biden, Dems Trump, the elections and Jan. 6: What you might have missed this week 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 FudgePowell death leads to bipartisan outpouring of grief Ethics watchdog accuses Psaki of violating Hatch Act New HUD rule aimed at preventing evictions from public housing MORE (D-Ohio), Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarFirst senator formally endorses Bass in LA mayoral bid Bass receives endorsement from EMILY's List Bass gets mayoral endorsement from former California senator MORE (D-Calif.), A. Donald McEachinAston (Donale) Donald McEachinA holistic approach to climate equity Nearly 200 House Democrats call for focus on clean energy tax credits in reconciliation End the practice of hitting children in public schools MORE (D-Va.) and Tom MalinowskiThomas (Tom) MalinowskiUS Chamber targets more House Democrats with ads opposing .5T bill Journalist Dave Levinthal discusses 'uptick' in congressional stock trade violations Pandora Papers: 4 takeaways from massive leak of world leaders' finances MORE (D-N.J.).

Lofgren in a statement heavily criticized President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new social media network called 'TRUTH Social' Virginia State Police investigating death threat against McAuliffe Meadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report 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 McConnellGOP blocks Senate Democrats' revised elections bill A politicized Supreme Court? That was the point The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Democrats optimistic after Biden meetings 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.