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Rep. Demings Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Counter Russian Election Interference

May 22, 2018
Press Release

Rep. Demings Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Counter Russian Election Interference

Today, Rep. Val Demings introduced the bipartisan ‘Defend Against Russian Disinformation Act,’ designed to strengthen America’s response to Russian interference in our elections. The bill, cosponsored by Rep. Ted Lieu and Rep. Elise Stefanik, would strengthen federal cybersecurity, support intelligence gathering, and enhance NATO military activities. It has been vetted by bipartisan national security experts.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that nearly seven in ten Americans support tougher sanctions against Russia.

Said Rep. Demings, “When America takes on a bully, we should fight to win. I won’t sit in silence while a foreign dictator attacks our democracy and our citizens. Today, I’m introducing a bill to take clear steps to defend us from Russia’s uncontested aggression.

“Thirteen Russians and three companies have already been indicted for interfering with the 2016 election. Since then, Russia has continued its campaigns of disinformation, propaganda, and political and military pressure against U.S. allies and interests.

“American families deserve to know that their news is real, their power grid is secure, and their personal information won’t be stolen. Our allies deserve to know that America will respond strategically and strongly in their defense against aggression. All of us deserve a safe, free world—and the only way to get it is to stand up to the world’s dictators when they go on the offensive.

“It’s time to stand up for ourselves by securing our cyber-infrastructure, preventing malicious hacks, strengthening our intelligence-gathering, working with our allies to push back against Russian aggression, and investigating and shutting down the illicit funding streams that bankroll Putin and his cronies.”

Said Rep. Stefanik, “Russia is an active adversary of the United States and this legislation aims to counter their ability to conduct information warfare on the American people. As the Chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities and a Member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan bill to bolster our cyber defense and strengthen our partnership with NATO.”

Said Rep. Lieu, “Russia is threatening our democracy. By refusing to act, the Trump Administration is allowing foreign adversaries using cutting-edge tools to sow discord and shift elections. Because we have yet to enact sufficient safeguards to protect our elections, we’re tolerating the actions of bad actors like Russia who want to chip away at our democracy. I’m grateful for Congresswoman Val Demings’ leadership on the Defend Against Russian Disinformation Act. With this bill, our government will be empowered to take considerable steps—including enforcing sanctions and strengthening federal cybersecurity standards—to defend our institutions and fight Russian disinformation.”


Rep. Demings, Orlando’s former Police Chief, serves on the House Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees, and is a member of the Congressional Task Force on Election Security. As a member of the Task Force, she previously helped to introduce The Election Security Act to secure America’s election infrastructure.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D, CA-33) serves on the House Judiciary Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R, NY-21) serves on the House Armed Services Committee and Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Russia’s 2016 election-interference campaign included an attempted breach of Florida’s election system, in which 12 Florida Supervisors of Elections were targeted.

Bill Summary

The Defend Against Russian Disinformation Act relies heavily on the work of a Council of Foreign Relations report by Robert Blackwill and Philip Gordon. Mr. Blackwill worked for the George W. Bush Administration. Mr. Gordon worked for the Obama Administration.

The Defend Against Russian Disinformation Act declares that Russia has engaged in the spread of disinformation, aiming to undermine democracies including the United States. To combat Russian influence, the bill codifies the State Department’s Coordinator of Sanctions Office to oversee the diplomatic aspects of U.S. and U.N. sanctions with respect to Russia. The office was closed by the administration last year.

In addition, it expresses that Executive Order 13800, issued by President Trump last year to strengthen federal cybersecurity, should be implemented. Finally, it directs the Secretary of Defense to conduct more NATO naval exercises in the Baltic and Black Sea and conduct joint research to enhance military capabilities to deter Russian aggression in those regions.