Election security measure pulled from Senate bill

A measure that would require presidential campaigns to report attempts by foreign nationals to interfere in elections was removed from the Senate’s bipartisan Intelligence Authorization Act, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Tuesday.

The clause was based on Warner’s Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections (FIRE) Act, which requires presidential campaigns to report all contacts with foreign nationals seeking to interfere in the election process to both the FBI and the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The Intelligence Authorization Act will be included in the Senate version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), but according to Warner, the FIRE Act clause was taken out as part of a “backroom deal” in order to get the intelligence legislation included in the must-pass defense funding bill.

Warner announced he was proposing the legislation as a separate amendment to the NDAA in order to force members of the Senate to vote on the record about where they stood on election security. The Senate this week is debating its version of the 2021 NDAA.

Warner criticized President Trump and Republicans for removing the clause, noting that the Senate had not voted on any standalone election security legislation since Russian agents interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

“In a different time, with a different president, this bill wouldn’t be controversial at all, it would simply say, to all presidential campaigns going forward, if a foreign power reaches out to your campaign offering assistance or offering dirt on a political opponent, the appropriate response is not to say thank you, the appropriate response is to call the FBI,” Warner said.

“What a sad statement about partisan politics in our country when we cannot even agree to that,” he added.

Warner has previously brought the FIRE Act to the Senate in an attempt to pass it through unanimous consent, but was blocked by Republicans five separate times.