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Congressman DeSaulnier Successfully Passes Measure to Better Inform States About Foreign Interference in Elections

October 23, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, a measure authored by Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) to better inform states about foreign efforts to interfere in an election was included in the final version of the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for A Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act (H.R. 4617), which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 227-to-181. The SHIELD Act would strengthen the country’s ability to better identify and fight foreign interference in elections. Congressman DeSaulnier’s amendment would require the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to inform states within 30 days of receiving information that a targeted disinformation campaign has occurred in their jurisdiction.

“In 2016, bad actors weaponized social media platforms to spread false information, push misleading ads, and ultimately undermine Americans’ faith in democracy,” said Congressman DeSaulnier. “We know this disinformation campaign was successful, and that foreign agents, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller warned, are ‘doing it as we sit here, and expect to do it again in the next campaign.’ It is the responsibility of Congress to ensure that we have a government that is for and by the American people, and not by foreign adversaries.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee has reported that all 50 states were targeted by Russia in the months leading up to the 2016 election, and earlier this month the New York Times reported that the Iranians are already following in Russia’s footsteps and have begun cyberattacks aimed at disrupting our 2020 election. While these threats faced by foreign agents were substantial in 2016, state officials responsible for managing and securing election systems were unaware.

Congressman DeSaulnier has also authored the Bots Research Act (H.R. 2860), which would establish a task force at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to determine the impact of social media “bots” on public discourse and elections. He has also called for hearings in the House Oversight and Reform Committee on the impact of social media bots on our elections.