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*** The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously passed two election security-related bills on May 16, the Defending Elections against Trolls from Enemy Regimes (DETER) Act and the Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act.

The DETER Act, offered by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Judiciary chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), would allow the government to promptly deport any non-U.S. citizen residing in the United States who has been found by the Departments of Justice, State or Homeland Security to be engaged in improper interference in an American election. The bill is separate and distinct from a bill sporting the same acronym -- the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act, another bill that has been introduced by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).

The Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act is designed to fix a loophole identified by Justice Department lawyers, who believe the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act may not explicitly prohibit the hacking of voting machines that aren't connected to the internet. The legislation would fix that loophole, making it a federal crime to hack into a state voting system whether it's connected to the internet or not.

Despite unanimously passing the committee, neither bill may go much farther. In a May 15 Senate Rules Committee hearing, Chair Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had relayed he was unlikely to approve floor debate for any election security-related bills, because he has found "this debate reaches no conclusions."

*** Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, is asking White House Counsel Pat Cipollone for copies of any ethics waivers granted to administration officials, including 10 waivers never made available to the Office of Government Ethics. Cummings is making a similar request of the heads of 24 major agencies. 

Cummings is especially concerned with any waivers that authorize political appointees to conduct government business despite potential conflicts of interest.

Posted on May 17, 2019 at 12:31 AM


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