Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Orlando Rep. Val Demings is leading bipartisan bill to combat Russian election meddling

Posted By on Wed, May 23, 2018 at 1:02 PM

PHOTO VIA VAL DEMINGS' CAMPAIGN
  • Photo via Val Demings' campaign
U.S. Rep. Val Demings is leading a bipartisan push to harden the nation’s defense against Russian interference in the upcoming November midterms.

Demings, an Orlando Democrat, is joined by U.S. Reps. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, and Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, in co-sponsoring the bill, dubbed the Defend Against Russian Disinformation Act. The legislation would attempt to strengthen federal cybersecurity, support intelligence gathering and enhance NATO military activities, and has already been vetted by bipartisan national security experts, according to a news release.

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

The release notes a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll that found that nearly 7 in 10 Americans support tougher sanctions against Russia. In addition, she points out that 13 Russians, as well as three Russian companies, have already have been indicted through Special Counsel Robert Mueller's wide-ranging probe, and that there's evidence that Russia is continuing its psychological warfare campaign, which includes 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,” Demings says. “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.”

The legislation declares that Russia has engaged in the spread of disinformation in an attempt to sow discord in democracies worldwide. 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 shuttered by the Trump administration last year, according to the release.

Demings adds: “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 investigation and shutting down the illicit funding streams that bankroll Putin and his cronies."

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