Markup of H.R. 4617, Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy Act

Meeting Status: 
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - 2:00pm
1310 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515
Markup of H.R. 4617, Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy Act

On October 16, 2019 the Committee on House Administration will hold a markup to consider:

H.R. 4617, the SHIELD Act, a bill to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to clarify the obligation to report acts of foreign election influence and require implementation of compliance and reporting systems by Federal campaigns to detect and report such acts, and for other purposes, or a related measure, and for other purposes.

The Committee will meet at 2:00 PM in Room 1310 of the Longworth House Office Building.

Please contact Sean Jones at or 202-225-2061 if you have questions or need additional information.

For media inquiries please contact Peter Whippy, Communications Director, at or 202-225-3244.

Chairperson Zoe Lofgren, Opening Remarks: 

“This afternoon we will consider H.R. 4617, the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy, or SHIELD Act. This comprehensive legislation will strengthen the resilience of our democracy and protect against foreign interference in elections, including by foreign governments.

“The 2020 Federal elections are fast approaching. Public confidence and trust in our elections is of the utmost importance.

“But foreign adversaries are working to undermine that trust. They use disinformation and discord as weapons to divide us and to attack our values of equality and freedom. They hope that our institutions will collapse under the pressure of the division, decay, and distrust that they sow.

“The need to act is urgent.

“Foreign adversaries, including Russia, are interfering in our elections right now. Former Special Counsel Mueller, back in July, testified that they are ‘doing it as we sit here.’

“We have been warned repeatedly about this. The former Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, wrote earlier this year in his ‘Worldwide Threat Assessment’ that as the 2020 elections advance, our ‘adversaries and strategic competitors almost certainly will use online influence operations to try to weaken democratic institutions, undermine US alliances and partnerships, and shape policy outcomes in the United States and elsewhere.’ He also wrote that their tactics will include ‘spreading disinformation, conducting hack-and-leak operations, or manipulating data in a more targeted fashion to influence US policy, actions, and elections.’

“Just last week, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a report showing how the Kremlin’s ‘information warfare campaign was broad in scope and entailed objectives beyond the result of the 2016 election.’ This included using content to ‘push Americans further away from one another, and foment distrust in government institutions.’ The Senate report also found that ‘no single group of Americans was targeted by IRA information operatives more than African-Americans.’ Among the bipartisan Senate report’s recommendations are for Congress to ‘examine legislative approaches to ensure Americans know the sources of online political advertisements’ and to harmonize the rules that apply online with television, radio, and satellite communications.

“This Committee, and this House, have acted at least twice this year to shore up confidence in our elections. The House passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which included strong standards for ballot box election security as well as provisions to shut down loopholes that allow foreign money, including from foreign governments, to influence elections.

“The House passed H.R. 2722, the SAFE Act, which originated in this Committee and had some of its roots in Title III of H.R. 1. It would set strong cybersecurity standards for election infrastructure and provide resources to states to replace paperless and other outdated systems with voter-verified paper ballot systems.

“Now we are turning to another element of election security. The SHIELD Act closes gaps in the law that allow foreign nationals and foreign governments to launder money into our elections; it promotes full transparency of the sources behind online advertising campaigns; and it codifies a basic norm that political committees should report offers of illicit campaign assistance from foreign governments to the FBI and the FEC, rather than welcome interference from foreign governments.

“We should all be able to agree that we need to protect our democracy, and with a sense of urgency. This is should not be a partisan opinion. Nothing less than our national security is at stake. The Ranking Member has discussed his views of partisanship and democracy at previous markups. And I must stress for the record that many key elements of the SHIELD Act – including its incorporation of the Honest Ads Act – have strong Republican support. A July Quinnipiac poll found that by an 87 - 7 percent margin, including 80 - 11 percent among Republicans, voters support requiring political campaigns to report any information they receive from foreign governments to the FBI – a key component of Title I of the SHIELD Act. And voters say 78 - 13 percent it is never acceptable for a presidential campaign to obtain information on a political opponent from a hostile foreign power. The SHIELD Act also incorporates other elements of H.R. 1 that Republicans supported unanimously during the amendment process, including expanded prohibitions on paid political advertising by foreign governments.

“The SHIELD Act has garnered support since its introduction from the NAACP, Public Citizen, Common Cause, the Brennan Center for Justice, Democracy 21, NETWORK, and the End Citizens United Action Fund, as well as a letter received just this morning from the nuns, which is of particular meaning to me.

“So, with that, I will say that free and fair elections are at the core of what it means to live in a democracy like ours. Free and fair elections are at the heart of what it means to be a citizen of the United States. It our solemn duty to defend them.”