Sarbanes, House Democrats Introduce SHIELD Act to Combat Foreign Interference in American Elections


Oct 8, 2019
Contact: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Democracy Reform Task Force Chair Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and House Democrats to introduce the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act, a bill to combat foreign interference in American elections. The SHIELD Act (H.R. 4617) will close loopholes that allow foreign spending in our elections, boost disclosure and transparency requirements and create a duty to report illicit offers of campaign assistance from foreign nations or governments.

Investigations and whistleblower accounts have detailed extensive communications between the Trump White House, the Trump campaign and foreign governments. Investigators found that President Trump and at least 17 of his campaign officials and advisors had more than 100 contacts with Russians and Wikileaks. Recently, the President and his Administration have solicited foreign interference in the 2020 American elections from multiple foreign governments.

“Foreign adversaries attacked our elections in 2016 and they’re coming for us again in 2020,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “House Democrats have moved quickly to protect our democracy from foreign interference. As our first order of business, we passed H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which would modernize election infrastructure across the country, help block illicit foreign political activity online and crack down on secret foreign money and lobbying in our politics. We also swiftly passed the SAFE Act (H.R. 2722), a bill to help states upgrade and secure their voting systems. Today, we’re introducing The SHIELD Act, a bill to root out foreign influence, disinformation and interference in our elections. Senate Republicans and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must take up these critical national security bills as soon as possible. There’s no time to waste.”

“Most Americans know that foreign governments have no business interfering in our elections,” said Chairperson Lofgren. “Instead, the Trump campaign and White House have welcomed and repeatedly solicited foreign assistance for his political activities. This behavior is unacceptable, and it is telling that the White House has gone to great lengths to hide it from the American people. The SHIELD Act will protect our elections from foreign interference by closing loopholes that allow dishonest behavior, increasing disclosure and transparency requirements and ensuring that individuals engaging in conduct with foreign actors intending to influence the outcome of our elections will be held accountable by law.”

The SHIELD Act of 2019:

  • Creates a duty to report illicit offers of campaign assistance from foreign governments and their agents.
  • Helps prevent foreign interference in future elections by improving transparency of online political advertisements.
  • Closes loopholes that allow foreign nationals and foreign governments to spend in U.S. elections.
  • Restricts exchange of campaign information between candidates and foreign governments and their agents.
  • Prohibits deceptive practices about voting procedures.

See here for a two-page summary of the SHIELD Act.

See here for a section-by-section summary of the SHIELD Act.

See here for the SHIELD Act bill text.

The SHIELD Act is cosponsored by Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.), Chair of the New Democrat Coalition, Stephanie N. Murphy (D-Fla.), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Caucus, Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Susan A. Davis (D-Calif.), G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio), Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) and Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.).