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Engel & Connolly Offer Sanctions Bill to Punish Election Interference

Jan 13, 2017
Press Release
More than 50 Cosponsors Support Measure Responding to Russia's Hacking

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel (NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Representative Gerald E. Connolly (VA) are leading a group of more than 50 lawmakers to offer legislation that would punish illegal foreign interference in an American election. The SECURE Our Democracy Act would sanction any foreign individual or entity found to have unlawfully meddled with a federal election, and would bar entry to the United States and freeze U.S.-based assets of anyone involved in such interference.

“Our intelligence and law enforcement communities are unanimous in their assessment that Russia worked to rig our election. This is an attack on our country, and it cannot go unanswered. If the criminals who interfered with our election get away with it, what’s to stop our enemies from doing the same thing the next time Americans cast their votes? This bill would mete out tough penalties to those who tried to undermine our democracy, and it would put any other would-be meddlers on notice: stay out of our business or face the consequences,” said Rep. Engel. “Every member of the House should cosponsor this bill. I hope in the days ahead, we build the sort of bipartisan support around this issue we're seeing in the Senate under the leadership of Senators McCain and Graham.”

“The U.S. Intelligence Community recently shared an unclassified report detailing an unprecedented, deliberate, and multi-faceted campaign by Russia to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. That should trouble every American,” said Rep. Connolly. “One of our most cherished institutions, democratic elections free of foreign interference, was attacked. Congress must come together in a bipartisan fashion to demonstrate that there is a cost to such attacks on American democratic institutions.

“I am glad to join with Ranking Member Engel to introduce legislation that would publicly identify and authorize sanctions against foreign persons and governments that unlawfully interfere in U.S. federal elections. I applaud the Obama Administration for releasing this intelligence assessment. Our bill seeks to standardize this transparency measure because exposing these tactics is the best way to nullify them.”

Among the bill's cosponsors are Ranking Members Nita Lowey (NY) of the Appropriations Committee; Adam Smith (WA) of the Armed Services Committee; Bennie Thompson (MS) of the Homeland Security Committee; Adam Schiff (CA) of the Permanent Select Intelligence Committee; John Conyers, Jr. (MI) of the Judiciary Committee; and Elijah Cummings (MD) of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Click here for a complete list of the bill’s original cosponsors.

The SECURE Our Democracy Act would require the Secretary of State to compile and regularly update a public list of foreign persons and entities who, at any time since January 1, 2015, unlawfully interfered in U.S. elections for federal office. Those on the list would be barred from entering the United States and have their financial assets in this country frozen. Similar sanctions have won strong bipartisan support and have been used successfully against terrorists, drug traffickers, and human rights violators. The bill would also require the Secretary to submit a report to Congress after each federal election summarizing any foreign interference in the previous cycle, offering the American people an official report.  The SECURE Our Democracy Act would cost zero taxpayer dollars.

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