Key House Democrat criticizes DHS for not submitting election security report on time

Key House Democrat criticizes DHS for not submitting election security report on time
© Greg Nash

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonStates plead for cybersecurity funds as hacking threat surges House members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes Federal watchdog finds chemical facilities vulnerable to cyberattacks MORE (D-Miss.) on Friday raised concerns around the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) failure to submit a congressionally mandated election security report on time. 

DHS was required under the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to submit a report to Congress on successful and attempted cyberattacks on U.S. election infrastructure during the 2016 elections, along with any future cyberattacks on elections that DHS anticipates. 

The agency was required to submit the report within 60 days of the bill being signed into law. President TrumpDonald John TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points MORE signed the NDAA on Dec. 20, with Feb. 18 marking the deadline for the report to be submitted to appropriate congressional committees. 

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Thompson, whose committee is among those to which DHS is required to submit the report, said Friday that the failure of DHS to submit the report “further obstructs Congress’s abilities to conduct proper oversight,” and noted this was “in direct violation of the law.”

“The threat to our democracy from foreign governments is real, and the administration’s pattern of denial must stop,” Thompson added. “With President Trump in office, the American people cannot expect our elections to be secure and free from foreign interference or cyber-attacks with status quo measures in place.”

DHS did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the report. 

The NDAA also included various other election security requirements, such as mandating that the director of national intelligence complete a review of the intelligence community’s ability to “collect and analyze” evidence of Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 elections, and that various federal agencies create a “strategy” to defend against future Russian cyberattacks on elections within 90 days of the bill being signed into law. 

Election security has been in the spotlight on Capitol Hill since the 2016 elections, during which — as concluded by the Senate Intelligence Committee, U.S. intelligence agencies, and the report compiled by former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE — Russian agents launched sweeping disinformation and hacking attacks on U.S. elections designed to favor the campaign of now-President Trump.

More recently, reports emerged last week that Russia is again attempting to interfere in the 2020 elections, specifically through assisting the campaigns of both Trump and Democratic hopeful Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersExpanding tax credit for businesses retaining workers gains bipartisan support The battle of two Cubas Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Rep. Ro Khanna MORE (I-Vt.).