A congresswoman from South Florida is joining fellow Sunshine State Republican Marco Rubio’s effort to impose sanctions on Russia for interfering in American elections. 

At the end of last week, retiring Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first woman to ever lead the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced that she is teaming up with Illinois Democrat Brad Schneider to introduce the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act in the House. Earlier this month, Rubio and Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen introduced that bill in the Senate. 

The bill would have the Director of National Intelligence produce a report on international interference in American elections and would impose sanctions on Russian individuals, agencies and businesses that interfere in the future. The proposal would also have the White House produced a strategy in case other nations–including China, North Korea and Iran–attempt to interfere in American elections. 

Ros-Lehtinen weighed in on Friday on why she was championing the bill in the House. 

“Russian efforts to undermine U.S. leadership and interests know no boundaries, including at home,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “As our intelligence community has repeatedly confirmed, Russia blatantly meddled in our 2016 elections, as well as previous elections, in an attempt to erode public trust in our electoral process and undermine our democratic institutions. It will undoubtedly do so again. With this bill, we can help deter future attacks by ensuring Putin is clear on the heavy price that will be paid, including debilitating sanctions on key Russian economic sectors. I’m proud to join with Brad, as well as Chris and Marco in the Senate, to make sure Russia and every other country that chooses to attack our way of life is held accountable.”

“Our intelligence community is unanimous that the Russian government engaged in a focused campaign at the direction of Vladimir Putin to interfere in the 2016 elections,” Schneider insisted. “With fewer than ten months to our next national election and mere weeks before the first state primaries, the clock is ticking. Unless we act now, we will be increasingly vulnerable to the Russians’ next attacks. This important legislation sends a clear message to Moscow that there will be severe consequences to any future interference, while also taking steps to improve our defenses against meddling by other foreign powers. Every American must be confident in the integrity of their vote. I’m proud to join with Rep. Ros-Lehtinen and Sens. Van Hollen and Rubio to deter attacks on our electoral process.”

So far, Schneider is the only cosponsor for the bill in the House. The bill has four committee stops in the House as it was sent to the Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, Judiciary and the Intelligence Committees. 

Rubio made the case for the bill when he brought it out in the Senate two weeks ago. 

“We cannot be a country where foreign intelligence agencies attempt to influence our political process without consequences,” Rubio said. “This bill will help to ensure the integrity of our electoral process by using key national security tools to dissuade foreign powers from meddling in our elections.”

“Protecting the integrity of our elections is an issue that knows no party. And with the midterm elections less than a year away, we have no time to waste,” said Van Hollen. “The DETER ACT sends an unequivocal message to Russia and any other foreign actor who may follow its example: if you attack us, the consequences will be severe.”

So far, the bill has only one committee stop in the upper chamber with it being sent to the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee. 

Source link