January 25, 2018

Van Hollen Urges Action to Prevent Foreign Interference in U.S. Elections

This week, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen spoke on the floor regarding his and Senator Rubio's bipartisan legislation to prevent foreign interference in U.S. elections, the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act. Today, companion legislation to the DETER Act was introduced in the U.S. House by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Brad Schneider (D-Calif.). Former Vice President Joe Biden and former National Security Advisory Susan Rice also recently endorsed the legislation. Below are highlights from the Senator's remarks - video of the Senator's full remarks is available here.

"We all know we have great divisions and differences on lots of issues around our country and in this body, the United States Senate. But one thing that should unite us all, one principle that should bring us all together -- Democrats and Republicans alike, and, in fact, Americans regardless of political party or political stripe - is that we should protect our Democratic process. We should protect the integrity of our elections and Democratic institutions..."

"We know that the cyberattacks on our electoral system are only going to get more aggressive and more sophisticated over time. And Russia is not the only foreign power capable of waging a cyber-war on our democracy. We should expect other hostile actors will seek to undermine our Democratic system as well. With this in mind, even as we assess what happened in 2016, it's really important that we come together to focus on what could happen in 2018 and beyond. We need to work together urgently to prevent these attacks on our democracy, and the question is, how do we do that? There are lots of things that we can be doing, but one way is to make very clear to any foreign adversary that the cost to interfering in our elections far outweigh the benefits. And in order to affect that calculation, Senator Rubio and I recently introduced the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines, the DETER Act."

"The DETER Act is a bipartisan bill, and it is designed to be forward looking and to prevent foreign interference in our elections. It sends an unequivocal message to any foreign power: if you attack American candidates, campaigns, or voting infrastructure, you will automatically face severe consequences and we will use the full range of our tools at our disposal to impose those punishments..."

"The DETER Act lays out four redlines, four criteria which actors cannot cross without retaliation from the United States. If you go over this trip wire, you will face severe penalties... if Russia crosses any of those redlines in a future election, a series of sweeping sanctions would be triggered within ten days of the determination by the Director of National Intelligence. And the bill lays out those sanctions very clearly -- major sections of Russia's economy, including finance, energy, metals, and mining, would be subject to automatic mandatory sanctions. Every senior Russian official for oligarch would be barred from entering the United States and would have their assets blocked. These sanctions are far, far stronger than any action taken to date with respect to Russia, and the DETER Act conveys to Putin and others in Moscow in unequivocal terms that the United States will not tolerate attacks on our democracy..."

"We all want to make sure that we have free and fair elections, free of interference and intrusion from any adversary seeking to disrupt the Democratic process. We also know, both in our gut and from our intelligence agencies, that Russia and other foreign powers will continue to seek to interfere in our elections unless, unless they are deterred from doing so. And the only way to deter them from doing so is to make it absolutely clear in advance that if they interfere and get caught, there will be an automatic penalty... And that's why it's so important to set this up right now, before the November '18 elections, before future U.S. Elections. To put this regime in place, to put this structure in place that says to Vladimir Putin...if you meddle, if you try to undermine our democracy, you will pay a penalty. Don't do it."