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 ThompsonJan. 6 committee taps former Bush administration official as top lawyer Overnight Defense & National Security: US-Australian sub deal causes rift with France Jan. 6 panel says it is reviewing Milley actions 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 TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal 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) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel 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 SandersDemocrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Sanders 'disappointed' in House panel's vote on drug prices MORE (I-Vt.).