Today, Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA-15), the Ranking Member of the CIA Subcommittee of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Elijah Cummings (MD-07), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY).
The group are reintroducing their Protecting Our Democracy Act to establish an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate foreign interference in the 2016 election.
They originally introduced their legislation on December 7, 2016, at the end of the 114th Congress. Since then, they have obtained the support of more than 170 Members of the House of Representatives, including Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, and all members of House Democratic leadership; the Ranking Members of all House Committees; and all Democratic members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Their bill would create a 12-member, bipartisan, independent commission empowered to interview witnesses, obtain documents, issue subpoenas, and receive public testimony to examine attempts by the Russian government or others to use electronic means to influence, interfere with, or undermine trust in last year’s U.S. elections. The commission would examine any similar efforts by any other foreign governments or entities and would issue a final report with recommendations to Congress and the President within 18 months of enactment.
“There’s overwhelming agreement across America that our democracy was attacked this past presidential election. Now everyone’s asking what our nation’s leaders will do about it. Our legislation answers that question by identifying who was responsible and telling Americans what we will do to secure our next election,” said Ranking Member Swalwell. “We continue to seek Republican cosponsors because this must be about country, not party. If we do nothing, we are telling the world our elections are open for influence by the most aggressive meddler. With 17 intelligence agencies agreeing that Russia interfered in our election, we most move quickly to have an independent, bipartisan, de-politicized commission to fully examine the circumstances, inform the public of its findings, and develop a plan to prevent this from ever happening again.”
“The most senior leaders of our Intelligence Community testified yesterday that Russia interfered in our elections, which Republicans and Democrats alike have compared to an act of war,” said Ranking Member Cummings. “This grave threat calls for a truly bipartisan and independent commission that can put politics aside and conduct a complete review of this interference in our democratic process, and make concrete recommendations to protect our nation from being undermined by any foreign power. We cannot allow this to become the new normal for what we will accept as Americans.”
The 12 members of the independent commission would be appointed within 90 days of enactment of the Swalwell-Cummings bill by the Speaker of the House (3), Senate Majority Leader (3), House Minority Leader (3), and Senate Minority Leader (3). The commission would choose a chair and vice chair of different parties. No federal officers or employees would be eligible to serve on the commission. Appointees would be prominent U.S. citizens with national recognition and significant depth of experience in governmental service, law enforcement, armed services, law, public administration, intelligence gathering, foreign affairs, cybersecurity, and federal elections.
This week, a bipartisan group of former senior intelligence and defense officials – including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, former Acting Director of Central Intelligence Michael Morrell, and former Member of Congress and 9/11 Commission Vice Chair Lee Hamilton – sent a letter urging Congress to create an “independent, bipartisan commission” to “understand fully and publicly what happened, how we were so vulnerable, and what we can do to protect our democracy in future elections.”
Click HERE to read entire list of co-sponsors.
Become a Harlem insider - Sign-Up for our Newsletter!