Schneider, Lieu Introduce Bill to Help Counter Foreign Disinformation Campaigns
Today, U.S. Representatives Brad Schneider (IL-10) and Ted Lieu (CA-33) announced the introduction of new legislation to strengthen the Global Engagement Center (GEC) within the Department of State, the office tasked with countering foreign disinformation and propaganda campaigns. In March 2018, The New York Times reported the GEC had yet to spend any of the $120 million it had been allocated since late 2016 to counter Russian information warfare efforts, nor had it recruited a single analyst who speaks Russian.
H.R. 5681, the Global Engagement Center Authorities Act of 2018, clarifies responsibilities for the GEC, expands its hiring authorities, and establishes stronger congressional oversight requirements.
“Every week, we seem to learn more about the sophisticated network of social media bots and online ads used by Russia to spread disinformation during the 2016 election, but the Trump Administration refuses to see the very real threat or take the necessary actions,” said Schneider. “Russia views the upcoming 2018 elections as a target for further interference, and we have to act now. The Global Engagement Center has a crucial responsibility to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign propaganda and disinformation efforts. I am proud to partner with Rep. Ted Lieu to introduce this legislation to ensure our government is responding to this threat with the seriousness it deserves.”
“Our democracy and democracies around the world are being threatened by malign foreign powers, but the Trump Administration continues to balk at the proven fact that hostile foreign actors are using misinformation campaigns to challenge our faith in American institutions,” said Lieu. “I’m grateful to be partnering with Rep. Schneider to strengthen the Global Engagement Center within the Department of State, because it will serve as a vital tool to counter Russian interference in our upcoming elections. In March, Rep. Castro and I questioned why State Department resources dedicated to the GEC were going unspent, which underscores exactly why Congressional oversight of GEC is critical.”
Specifically, the bill clarifies the purpose of the GEC as the leader of federal government efforts to address the threat of foreign misinformation, expands hiring authorities to ensure the GEC is properly staffed, and requires annual congressional briefings on the activities of the GEC.