WASHINGTON — With less than one year before the midterm elections, the United States is still unprepared to deal with the threat of Russian election interference, but Republicans don’t seem concerned about improving voting protections, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said Tuesday.
“This is a serious threat and the failure to act against Russia’s interference is unacceptable,” said Jayapal, one of many House Democrats to criticize Republicans for their failure to hold hearings regarding Russian misinformation campaigns during the 2016 presidential election.
The liberal Center for American Progress released a report Tuesday listing ongoing national security threats posed by Russia. That report claims that Russia’s attempts to interfere with American democracy neither began nor ended with the 2016 presidential election, and alleges a wide range of adversarial actions by the Russian government, including intervention in American political discourse via social media, continued attempts to hack American intelligence agencies and targeting American nuclear plants for potential attacks.
At Tuesday’s news conference, Democrats echoed many of the recommendations of the CAP report, arguing that the House must pass legislation to improve infrastructure security across the board, including voting machines for the 2018 midterm election.
Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., reported “high anxiety among many members” on the House Energy and Commerce Committee regarding the level of vulnerability of American infrastructure to a potential Russian attack. Improving infrastructural security “needs to be made an absolute priority,” he said.
Sarbanes advocated for the passage of the Honest Ads Act, a bill that would subject digital advertisements to the same regulations as radio and television spots. The bill has been in the Committee on House Administration since October.
At the news conference, Democrats accused House Republicans of not sharing their sense of urgency about improving protections against Russian threats. “Russia launched an unprecedented attack of aggression directed at the American people,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., “and yet House Republicans have done nothing.”
In response to the FBI’s determination that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, the House of Representatives passed a bill in July 419-3 that imposed sanctions on Russia. The House Intelligence Committee has been investigating Russian interference into the 2016 election and recently released many of the ad images that were used by Russians to target American voters.
But these actions are not enough for many House Democrats. Sarbanes argued that the Russians were already preparing for the 2018 midterm elections: “We need to run, not walk, to the ramparts of our democracy and figure out how we’re going to protect ourselves.”