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S.2313 - Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act

Congress man and Senator Chris Van Hollen.

A bill to deter foreign interference in United States elections, and for other purposes.

You might favor this bill if:
►  You believe that if a foreign government or agency interferes with an American election, they should face consequences for such actions. There needs to be a clear list of possible actions committed by foreign governments that would grant U.S retaliation.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You believe that sanctions against foreign governments usually have only modest effects. There are only a few instances where economic sanctions could be identified as a direct achievement.

The DETER Act would, in every election after the bill is enacted, require the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to issue a report to Congress on whether any foreign government has interfered in such election, list a set of actions that would elicit retaliation should a foreign government or agency commit any interference, mandate a set of severe sanctions against the Russian government should they be found responsible for any election interference, and prepare a plan for preventing interference in our elections from other governments, agencies, or entities.

The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen and Republican Senator Marco Rubio, would send a powerful message to any foreign government seeking to meddle in American elections.

“If you attack American candidates, campaigns, or voting infrastructure, you will face severe consequences,” says a Marco Rubio press release.

The bill sets a list of actions by foreign governments that would grant retaliation from the U.S should such entity commit them. According to Sen. Rubio’s press release regarding the DETER act, if enacted, foreign governments cannot:
   - Purchase advertisements to influence an election, including online ads;
   - Use social and traditional media to spread significant amounts of false information to Americans;
   - Hack and release or modify election and campaign infrastructure, including voter registration databases and campaign emails; and
   - Block or otherwise hinder access to elections infrastructure, such as websites providing information on polling locations.

Should the DNI determine that Russia has interfered in an American election, the bill would mandate a set of sanctions to be implemented within 10 days of the election. These sanctions include every major sector of the Russian economy, including finance, energy, defense, and metals and mining. Every senior Russian political figure or oligarch identified in the report would be blacklisted from entering the U.S. and have their assets frozen.

The DNI has identified China, Iran, and North Korea as other major foreign government cyber threats who may also seek to exploit American vulnerabilities in the next election cycle. The legislation would give the administration up to 90 days to present a plan to Congress detailing the actions to be taken that are going to prevent these countries and other threats from interfering in future American 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 Senator 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.”

“We cannot be a country where foreign intelligence agencies attempt to influence our political process without consequences," said Senator Rubio. “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.”

The Deter Act currently sits on the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs and hearings started being held mid September 2018.


Sponsored by: Sen. Van Hollen, Chris [D-MD].

Cosponsored by: 8 Rep / 9 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.

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