For the last year, Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) has been attempting to stop what he describes as “the partisan blockade of election security legislation” from his Republican colleagues. Now, in what he calls a “back-room deal,” the Senators stripped language in an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.
The language was a provision that would make it a legal requirement for presidential campaigns to report offers of foreign election meddling to the FBI.
“‘If my Republican colleagues want to strip this legislation out of the NDAA behind closed doors, then I’m going to offer it up as an amendment to force an up-or-down vote and put every member of this body on the record,’ Warner said on the Senate floor.”
It’s not the first time Republicans have objected to the language in the bill called the FIRE Act. However, it received bipartisan support in the Intelligence Committee, co-written with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).
According to CNN:
“The amendment approved by the Intelligence Committee was an adopted version of Warner’s FIRE Act, which he introduced last year. It would require all presidential campaign officials report to the FBI any contacts with foreign nationals trying either to make campaign donations or coordinate with a campaign.”
Over the past year, Warner’s multiple efforts to introduce the bill on the Senate floor have been shot down by Republicans.
Now, after Republicans insisted specifically on taking out the wording that requires reporting foreign election interference, Warner is once more presenting the FIRE Act as an amendment.
Looking closer at the FIRE Act, it becomes clear what Republicans are standing against. Warner shared what the bill contains on Twitter, which he explains protects “the integrity of our intelligence community from political interference.”
As part of this Twitter thread, Warner writes:
“There’s a lot going on right now, but want to share some important news: The bill that just passed out of the Senate Intel Committee makes big changes that will protect the integrity of our intelligence community from political interference. Specifically:
The Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) puts new protections in place that will better protect whistleblowers from the political interference by the White House that we’ve seen directed at the intelligence community’s watchdog, the ICIG.
Following attempts by the White House to revoke security clearances for political retribution, the bill also includes legislation I wrote with @SenatorCollins to prevent the abuse of the security clearance process for political purposes.
Finally, the bill also includes my long-overdue legislation, the FIRE Act, which simply says: if a foreign power reaches out to a Presidential campaign offering dirt on an opponent or other assistance, you don’t say ‘thank you,’ you call the FBI.”
Now, Republican Senators will likely once again prevent the FIRE Act. However, after Trump’s behavior over the last four years, it’s clear we need this legislation to protect our elections.
“In a different time, with a different President, this bill wouldn’t be controversial at all,” said Warner.
“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 call the FBI.
“What a sad statement about partisan politics in our country that we can’t even agree on that. Can’t even agree that there ought to be a duty to report an offer of foreign assistance in a presidential campaign.”
Featured image: Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) via YouTube screenshot