By now, there is no disputing that Russia launched a targeted campaign on orders of Vladimir Putin to interfere in our most recent national elections. Our intelligence community agrees that Russia hacked political campaign committees and leaked stolen documents, used a sophisticated social media network of bots to spread misinformation and influence voters, and targeted dozens of state election systems for sensitive voter data, including in Illinois and Florida. This meddling is nothing short of a grievous attack aimed at the very foundation of our democratic system. As with any other attack by a hostile foreign government, Russia’s actions demand a serious response to hold our attackers accountable. The United States must take strong, corrective measures to protect the integrity of our elections and also deter any future attempts to interfere in our electoral process. This is a bipartisan concern, and indeed, a concern for all Americans. That is why we partnered together to introduce the House companion to a bill by Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act – H.R. 4884.
Our legislation makes clear to Russia and other countries that there will be severe repercussions for any future interference in our democratic process. The bill identifies which actions – from online misinformation to hacking and cyberattacks – will result in immediate retaliation by the United States. It then requires the Director of National Intelligence to issue a report within one month of every federal election on whether foreign efforts at interference were present. It also requires the president to submit to Congress a strategy to deter interference in our elections by other foreign governments of serious concern, like China, Iran and North Korea.
Given Russia’s past actions, if the Director of National Intelligence determines Moscow has again interfered, harsh sanctions on Russian finance, energy, defense, mining and other industries would automatically be imposed within 10 days.
This legislation is more important now than ever, given the administration’s continued reticence to take action against Russia. Last July, the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed, and the president signed into law, the bipartisan Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) to require the administration to apply sanctions against Russia for its illicit actions.