Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill's newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley.
MOVEMENT ON RUSSIA SANCTIONS?: Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP senators introduce bill targeting Palestinian 'martyr payments' Bipartisan senators earmark billion to support democracies globally Democrats see Christmas goal slipping away MORE (R-S.C.) and Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezFive ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan Spending bill faces Senate scramble Republicans raise concerns over Biden's nominee for ambassador to Germany MORE (D-N.J.) are working on legislation to slap new sanctions on Russia as Congress faces pressure to crack down in the wake of the Helsinki summit.
"Just as Vladimir Putin has made clear his intention to challenge American power, influence, and security interests at home and abroad, the United States must make it abundantly clear that we will defend our nation and not waver in our rejection of his effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia's future," Menendez and Graham said in a joint statement referring to the Russian leader on Tuesday.
In addition to making sure the 2017 sanctions legislation, which passed Congress overwhelmingly, is fully implemented, the forthcoming Graham-Menendez bill includes new sanctions on Russia's debt and energy and financial sectors.
It would also target cyber actors in Russia and Russian oligarchs.
The legislation comes as senators are weighing how to respond to Moscow after President TrumpDonald TrumpMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 Trump endorses David Perdue in Georgia's governor race MORE refused to denounce Russian meddling in the 2016 president election during last week's summit with Putin in Helsinki.
Read more here.
MEANWHILE ... Two Senate panels are planning a series of hearings to review the Trump administration's policies toward Russia and examine whether additional sanctions against the country are warranted.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDole in final column: 'Too many of us have sacrificed too much' Schumer steps on the gas to move Biden agenda Hoyer says Dec. 15 is drop-dead deadline to hike debt ceiling MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters on Tuesday that he tasked the chairmen of the Senate committees, Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her MORE (R-Tenn.) and Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoGOP ramps up attacks on SALT deduction provision Senate GOP threatens to block defense bill Republican Senators request military aid for Taiwan amid pressure from China MORE (R-Idaho), to "recommend to the Senate additional measures that could respond to or deter Russian malign behavior."
SENATORS PRESS TREASURY TO SANCTION RUSSIAN HACKERS: A bipartisan pair of senators on Tuesday asked the Treasury Department to impose financial sanctions on the 12 Russian intelligence officers indicted by special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerAn unquestioning press promotes Rep. Adam Schiff's book based on Russia fiction Senate 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 MORE last week for allegedly hacking the emails of top Democratic Party officials.
In a Tuesday letter, Sens. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenReal relief from high gas prices Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama MORE (D-Md.) asked Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden to tackle omicron risks with new travel rules Mnuchin and McConnell discuss debt limit during brief meeting Major Russian hacking group linked to ransomware attack on Sinclair: report MORE to target the alleged cyber-criminals under sanctions enacted by President Trump through executive orders and legislation he signed.
The Justice Department charged 11 members of Russia's military intelligence wing (GRU) on July 13 with conspiring to illegally access and distribute the emails of Democratic Party leaders, candidates and political committees. Another was charged was attempting to infiltrate systems used to conduct state elections.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has indicated he will not surrender the 12 indicted Russian officers to the United States for prosecution.
Toomey and Van Hollen asked Mnuchin to exercise his "legal authority necessary to impose sanctions on individuals who engage in cyber activities intended to interfere in America's elections."
Read more here.
NICE TRY: Democrats on the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday failed in their attempt to subpoena the top U.S. intelligence official to testify publicly on the threat Russia poses to U.S. elections.
Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHouse Democrats miss chance to help McAuliffe Progressives see infrastructure vote next week Dem hopes for infrastructure vote hit brick wall MORE (D-Va.) offered a motion to subpoena Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsAn independent commission should review our National Defense Strategy Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race MORE. Republicans defeated the effort in a 17-15 party-line vote that tabled the motion.
The vote was held during a hearing on election security after Democrats criticized Committee Chairman Trey GowdyTrey GowdyTrey Gowdy sets goal of avoiding ideological echo chamber with Fox News show Fox News signs Trey Gowdy, Dan Bongino for new shows Pompeo rebukes Biden's new foreign policy MORE (R-S.C.) for declining their request to ask Coats to testify.
Gowdy had offered to invite Coats to testify before the committee in a classified setting, but Democrats described that offer as insufficient.
"We appreciate your agreement to hold a classified briefing with [the Office of Director of National Intelligence], but we think a briefing, albeit helpful, needs to be accompanied by a public hearing," said Connolly, adding that a closed-door briefing would be "no substitute" for a public one.
At the end of the hearing, Gowdy, who is also a member of the House Intelligence Committee, pushed back on Democrats' broader demands for more public hearings to examine Russian interference in the 2016 election.
He argued that the House and Senate intelligence committees appropriately conducted their investigations into Moscow's election meddling in a classified setting in order to review sensitive information. "Everything can't be done in public," he said.
Read more here.
DEM WANTS TECH BACK BEFORE CONGRESS: The Senate Intelligence Committee's top Democrat is pushing for another hearing on how tech firms are dealing with Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDemocrats see Christmas goal slipping away Senate dodges initial December crisis with last-minute deal Liberty University professor charged with alleged sexual battery and abduction of student MORE (D-Va.) has said before that he was interested in bringing technology executives back before his committee after representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in November.
Two sources with knowledge of the matter told The Hill that Warner is now taking steps to make the hearing happen.
The focus of the hearing expected to be on how major internet platforms were manipulated during the election and the threat it could happen again.
We have the details here.
A CYBER WARFARE POLICY? The final version of an annual defense policy bill would set new authorities for the Department of Defense to deter and respond to attacks in cyberspace, including establishing the first U.S. policy on cyber warfare.
Following House and Senate negotiations, a conference report on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) released Monday says the United States should be able to use every option on the table, including offensive cyber capabilities.
"[The NDAA] establishes a policy that the United States should employ all instruments of national power, including the use of offensive cyber capabilities, to deter if possible, and respond when necessary, to cyber attacks that target U.S. interests," the conference report reads.
It notes that the policy could be applied if the attack was to intentionally "cause casualties, significantly disrupt the normal functioning of our democratic society or government, threaten the Armed Forces or the critical infrastructure they rely upon, achieve an effect comparable to an armed attack, or imperil a U.S. vital interest." Congress said if it is faced with a cyberattack or malicious cyber activity, it will first encourage the White House to take action before acting unilaterally.
If passed into law, this legislative text from the Senate would establish the nation's first cyber warfare policy -- but it has to pass the president's desk first. President Trump has previously objected to the language in the Senate-passed bill, charging that this would infringe on his presidential authorities.
Read more here.
BATTLEGROUND NET NEUTRALITY POLLING: A new poll commissioned by the Internet Freedom Business Alliance that was shared with The Hill has found that swing district voters back net neutrality even though the FCC has repealed the rules.
The firm IMGE polled voters in California's 25th congressional district, Colorado's 6th, Florida's 18th and New York's 19th.
The survey found in aggregate that of the 1600 voters surveyed, 63 percent of Republicans, 72 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Trump voters back net neutrality rules.
And in each of the districts polled, the net neutrality rules registered at least 64 percent favorability among voters.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents said that the issue would be very or somewhat important during the November midterm elections.
The full poll can be found here.
FACEBOOK GAINS A FOOTHOLD IN CHINA: Facebook is opening a subsidiary in China, a major coup for a company that has been trying to get a foothold in the country for years.
The Washington Post first reported that Facebook will be opening a $30 million incubator in Hangzhou that will be focused on advising and making investments in businesses.
However, the social media site itself is still blocked in China despite CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark ZuckerbergRohingya refugees sue Facebook for 0B Hillicon Valley — Amazon draws COVID scrutiny Meta exec who co-founded Diem digital currency leaving the company MORE's efforts to appeal to Communist Party leaders like President Xi Jinping.
"We are interested in setting up an innovation hub in Zhejiang [province] to support Chinese developers, innovators and start-ups," the company said in a statement released to The Hill. "We have done this in several parts of the world -- France, Brazil, India, Korea -- and our efforts would be focused on training and workshops that help these developers and entrepreneurs to innovate and grow."
Read more here.
TODAY IN THE PRESIDENT'S TWEETS: President Trump on Tuesday said he is "very concerned" that Russia will attempt to interfere in this year's midterm elections, claiming Moscow "will be pushing very hard" to support Democrats.
"I'm very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election," Trump tweeted. "Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don't want Trump!"
Don't forget: Russian President Vladimir Putin said alongside Trump after their meeting in Helsinki last week that he wanted Trump to win the 2016 election.
"Yes, I did, because he was the one who wanted to normalize relations with Russia," Putin said.
FACEBOOK SAYS WILD ALEX JONES TWEETS ARE OKAY: Facebook on Tuesday said that Infowars founder Alex Jones's monologue threatening special counsel Robert Mueller is not a violation of its platform rules.
In his rant, Jones accuses Mueller of covering up sex crimes, challenges the special counsel to an imaginary gunfight and pantomimes shooting the former FBI director. He challenges Mueller to "make the move first, and then it's going to happen" before pretending to shoot the special counsel.
In the monologue, Jones accused Mueller of molesting children but later walked that back and said Mueller just "controls" the rape of children and did not participate in it.
Facebook is eating the policy it doubled down on: The company has said that despite taking down videos and other content pushing hoaxes and banning repeat offenders, Jones's Infowars account doesn't qualify for a ban from the platform.
Despite criticism for this stance, Facebook says that hoax stories alone are not violations of its rules.
It's not clear if Jones's words could constitute a transmitted threat against Mueller, who is currently leading the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. Threatening a federal official with violence is a class C or D felony, punishable by up to five or 10 years in prison.
Read more here.
HATCH TELLS GOOGLE THAT HE'S STILL ALIVE: Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears MORE wants the world to know he's very much alive after a Google search results snafu had declared the 84-year-old Utah Republican dearly departed.
On Monday night, Hatch's office pointed out the news of the senator's "death" via the search engine. Pulling from a faulty Wikipedia entry, Google had declared that Hatch passed away last September:
Matt Whitlock, Hatch's spokesman, tells ITK, "When Sen. Hatch first heard of his passing he was quite alarmed. Having advanced four major bills last night he was surprised to hear that he may have been dead the whole time."
Hatch's office tweeted out a proof of life series to make the case that their boss was far from expired.
Read more here.
CYBER BILL APPROVED BY HOUSE HOMELAND PANEL: The House Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday approved a bill that will codify a key cybersecurity program at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The bill, introduced by Rep. John RatcliffeJohn Lee RatcliffeThis Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead DOJ charges two Iranians with interference in 2020 election In dramatic shift, national intelligence director does not rule out 'extraterrestrial' origins for UFOs MORE (R-Texas), would give the Homeland Security Secretary the authority to establish the Continuous Diagnostics Mitigation (CDM) program, which aims to protect federal networks from cyberattacks.
"The Continuous Diagnostic and Mitigation has been one of the DHS's top priorities because it has the potential to dramatically increase our visibility across federal networks," Ratcliffe said during the Homeland committee's markup of DHS-related bills.
"Many of us believe the program has the ability to provide the information necessary to make better decisions, not only to combat our enemies in cyberspace, but also to help federal [Chief Information Officers] manage information technology."
The approval of Ratcliffe's bill, known as the Advancing Cybersecurity Diagnostics and Mitigation Act, comes a few weeks after the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) found a majority of cyber agencies are vulnerable to cyber attacks.
"OMB found that almost 75 percent of federal agencies are vulnerable to cyber threats in large part due to their inability to understand cyber risks, and therefore their inability to prioritize their resources," the Texas lawmaker said.
Ratcliffe said the DHS CDM program is the "best" solution to this problem because it would help federal agencies understand the threats they face and the risks they face and the vulnerabilities posed in real time.
Read more here.
A LIGHTER TWITTER CLICK: Spotted on the Hill.
AN OP-ED TO CHEW ON: Bitcoin will have ups and downs, but you can expect it to surge in years ahead.
The Senate Intelligence Committee is holding an open hearing on two intelligence nominations at 9:30 a.m.
The House Homeland Security Committee is holding a hearing on the federal government's cybersecurity risk profile at 10:30 a.m.
All four FCC commissioners will testify in an oversight hearing before the House Commerce subcommittee on communications and technology at 1 p.m.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is holding a hearing on the Government Accountability Office's interim report on the federal government's major cybersecurity challenges at 2 p.m.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hear from Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoHaley has 'positive' meeting with Trump No time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Psaki: Sexism contributes to some criticism of Harris MORE at 3:00 p.m. Wednesday. Note: The hearing time was pushed back 30 minutes.
NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB:
Judiciary Dems call for hearings on NRA's role in Russia's 2016 election meddling. (The Hill)
Officials say Russian hackers claimed 'hundreds of victims' in a campaign targeting the energy sector. (The Wall Street Journal)
A new poll finds that Republican opinions of the FBI have become considerably less favorable over the past year. (Pew Research Center)
Brett Kavanaugh on net neutrality. (SCOTUSblog)
Senate Intel chair says 'sound reasons' for judges to approve the FISA warrant on Carter Page. (CNN)
Facebook's chief security officer's parting memo. (BuzzFeed)
DIY 3D-printed guns get go-ahead after Trump administration strikes court deal. (The Guardian)
Ron Wyden reckons with the internet he helped create. (The Verge)