Langevin Votes to Combat Foreign Interference in U.S. Elections

WASHINGTON – Congressman Langevin (D-RI) today voted in favor of The Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act, a comprehensive bill to combat foreign interference in the United States political system. The bill includes Langevin’s amendment to direct the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to conduct a study on Americans’ media literacy skills. It passed by a vote of 227-181.

“Russian operatives waged a sweeping and systematic social media campaign to influence voters ahead of the 2016 elections,” said Congressman Langevin. “With 2020 right around the corner, we must do all we can to secure our elections and restore confidence in the integrity of our democracy. The SHIELD Act makes critical reforms to better safeguard our elections from foreign interference, and I am pleased it includes my amendment to study Americans’ media literacy skills. The ability to recognize misinformation is one the best tools for overcoming foreign influence attempts, and it is vital for us to understand how well-equipped the American public is to combat this ongoing threat.”  

The Senate Intelligence Committee recently released a bipartisan report on Russia’s use of social media to influence the outcome of the 2016 elections. Experts agree that improving media literacy, which is a measure of how well people can critically engage with journalism, advertisements, and other sources of information is one of the most effective ways to combat foreign influence campaigns. Langevin, who recently introduced the Digital Citizenship and Media Literacy Act to strengthen media literacy and disinformation education, offered his amendment directing the FEC to commission a media literacy study to better understand how well the American populace is able to critically evaluate news sources and identify false information.

“There's never been a more urgent time to advance media literacy and digital citizenship in American schools,” said Renee Hobbs, Director of the Media Education Lab and Professor at the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island. “Learning to recognize and resist propaganda and disinformation is an essential dimension of education in a digital age. After all, it is the only long-term strategy that embodies our country's vital democratic traditions of robust dialogue and debate in the marketplace of ideas.”

In addition to Langevin’s amendment, The SHIELD Act includes several provisions to protect the U.S. political system from foreign interference. Specifically, the bill will:

  • Require political campaigns and committees to report offers of campaign assistance from foreign governments to the FBI
  • Ensure online political advertisements are covered by the same rules and have the same level of transparency as broadcast advertisements
  • Close loopholes permitting foreign nationals and governments to spend money in our elections
  • Prohibit anyone from providing false information about voting rules and qualifications