On Thursday, the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a Democratic-authored amendment intended to head off any potential Russian influence in the 2018 midterm elections.
According to a press release from Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), the amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act compels Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to study the creation of a Foreign Malign Influence Response Center (FMIRC). If created, the FMIRC would establish a “fusion center” made up of intelligence officials representing various agencies to defend against any attempts from foreign governments to influence future elections.
“Our democracy stands tall when our elections stand secure. As Russia attempts to replicate their success influencing our election, our government’s response to this threat has been woefully inadequate,” Rep. Kennedy said in a public statement. “With the passage of this amendment, Congress can begin to force this Administration to coordinate and consolidate our efforts to protect our elections across every layer of our democracy.”
The amendment would have to be passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Trump before such an entity could be created, but the amendment apparently has broad bipartisan appeal, as it was approved via voice vote on Thursday afternoon according to House records.
Such an entity would likely have its hands full if created, as former CIA director Mike Pompeo stated as early as January that he and other intelligence officials expected Russia to intervene in the 2018 midterm elections. However, just a month later, a panel of House Republicans voted to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission, which helps states guard their voting machines against potential hacking attempts.
However, the effort to make voting machines easier to hack didn’t get play in the senate, and the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee recently issued a report concurring with various U.S. intelligence agencies in their previous assessment that Russia did in fact intervene in the 2016 presidential election to help Donald Trump win.
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.