July 9, 2020: Bronx, NY—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today introduced bipartisan legislation designed to combat foreign election interference. The Rewards for Providing Information on Foreign Election Interference Act would expand an existing State Department initiative to reward people who alert American authorities about interference in American elections from overseas.
“Our intelligence community has been clear about the threat facing American democracy: Russia attacked our elections in 2016 and 2018, and they will try to put their thumbs on the scale again this year.
“It’s an established fact that Vladimir Putin interfered in our last presidential election to tip the scales in Trump’s favor. We must be clear-eyed about that so we can respond effectively in the future. But, instead of acting to punish the attackers and strengthen our election systems, President Trump praises Vladimir Putin and rewards him with strategic victories. He’s actively invited foreign meddling to help his chances in the 2020 election. Yet too many of the President’s Republican allies still refuse to acknowledge these clear facts in the belief that it will serve their own political interests.
“At a time when the White House cares more about narrow partisan politics than national security, Congress must step in to protect our democracy. The bill I’m introducing today would incentivize people to turn over information about foreign election interference, supplementing the ample tools Congress has given the executive branch to address this challenge,” said Chairman Engel.
The Rewards for Providing Information on Foreign Election Interference Act:
– Expands the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program to allow for rewards to any individual who furnishes information leading to the identification or location of a foreign person that knowingly engaged or is engaging in foreign election interference.
– Rewards for Justice, the State Department’s counterterrorism rewards program administered by the Diplomatic Security Service, was established through the 1984 Act to Combat International Terrorism. That authorizing statute has been amended many times since then to authorize payment of rewards for other purposes, including those related to narcotics-related offenses and war crimes.
-The program has paid rewards of over $150 million since its inception.
Full text of the bill can be found here.