Legislation to Combat Foreign Interference in Elections Passes House

Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to pass legislation containing a key provision led by Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) to combat foreign interference in American elections. The legislation, the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act, will close loopholes that allow foreign spending in our elections, boost disclosure and transparency requirements with the inclusion of Kilmer’s Honest Ads Act, and create a duty to report illicit offers of campaign assistance from foreign nations or governments. Kilmer served as an original co-sponsor of the legislation.

“Foreign interests shouldn’t be able to influence American elections, period. That’s not a Democratic notion. It’s not a Republican notion. It’s an American notion.” said Rep. Kilmer. “Countless intelligence assessments have confirmed vulnerabilities in the American election system and just this week, one of the world’s most prominent social media companies acknowledged that foreign adversaries are already actively working to interfere in our next election. It’s vital that Democrats and Republicans come together to take real action to protect our elections from foreign interference. I’m proud to see the Honest Ads Act included in this bill to ensure Americans know who is paying for the online ads they are seeing and to make it harder for foreign actors to use the internet to attack our democracy. I urge the Senate to take action to further protect our democracy without delay.”

The SHIELD Act of 2019:

  • Creates a duty to report illicit offers of campaign assistance from foreign governments and their agents.
  • Helps prevent foreign interference in future elections by improving transparency of online political advertisements.
  • Closes loopholes that allow foreign nationals and foreign governments to spend in U.S. elections.
  • Restricts exchange of campaign information between candidates and foreign governments and their agents.
  • Prohibits deceptive practices about voting procedures.

Click here for a two-page summary of the SHIELD Act.

The SHIELD Act is sponsored by Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and cosponsored by Representatives John P. Sarbanes (D-Md.), Chair of the Democracy Reform Task Force, Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), Chair of the New Democrat Coalition, Stephanie N. Murphy (D-Fla.), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Caucus, and 133 additional members of the House.

The Honest Ads Act (H.R. 2592) is co-sponsored by 18 Democrats and 18 Republicans in the House. Companion legislation in the Senate was also introduced by U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, 

The Honest Ads Act was included in H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2019, a sweeping package of reform bills co-sponsored by Rep. Kilmer and passed by the House in March 2019. The For the People Act of 2019 aims to strengthen the voice of the American people in their democracy by making it easier to vote, ending the dominance of big money in the political process, and ensuring public officials work for the public interest.