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senate Bill S. 1962

Should Foreign Nationals Be Prohibited From Purchasing Political & Issue Ads?

Argument in favor

As Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election illustrates, foreign governments are easily able to exert undue — and corrosive — influence in U.S. elections through political ads. Prohibiting such actions by foreign nationals is an important step towards blocking foreign nations’ interference in American democracy.

jimK's Opinion
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08/23/2019
Obviously, the purchase of ads to media blitz and mislead the public are highly effective- that’s why political candidates spend so much on tv-blitzes during campaigns. Foreign self interests cannot be allowed to influence our elections in any way. One of our Country’s greatest strengths is our open society which champions everyone’s right to express their opinions. This is also our country’s greatest vulnerability- in that our ‘openness’ is relatively easy to dupe or exploit in today’s world of near instantaneous information communications. We need the the type of protection this bill represents to preserve what we value and protect us from those who would exploit those values.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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08/23/2019
It’s obviously important to prevent foreign advertising for political issues.
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Vanessa's Opinion
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08/23/2019
Groups paying for political ads should have to identify their true selfs to the public, that would take the malice and profit out of duping their targeted audience.
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Argument opposed

Given that foreign nations may have legitimate interests in U.S. politics that justify their purchase of issue ads, this bill might go a step too far in barring their purchases of such ads. As long as the U.S. exerts influence over other nations’ politics, it’s unjustified for the U.S. government to prohibit other governments doing the same within U.S. borders.

Ben's Opinion
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08/23/2019
America is heavily involved in other countries... I’d say other nations should be able to spend money on advertising if they want, provided that they specify who is paying for the political ad.
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Jim2423's Opinion
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08/23/2019
We place propaganda into other countries so why shouldn't interested countries invest in our elections. It is up to the voter to distinguish between false and good political advertising. We actually have more big money in America placing more propaganda political ads than any outside country.
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Tricia 's Opinion
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08/23/2019
Stop pushing the Russian collusion crap. So sick of it! Slanderous rhetoric is nauseating and unprofessional. ENOUGH is ENOUGH. We have Congress members flying all over making shady deals and spreading propaganda. Why doesn't everyone mind their own business and fix the problems in this Country.🧐
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Rules and Administration
    IntroducedJune 25th, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 1962?

This bill — the PAID AD Act — would make it illegal for foreign nationals to purchase broadcast, cable, satellite, or digital communications naming a candidate for office at any point in time. It would also prevent foreign governments and foreign lobbyists from buying issue ads. 

Additionally, this bill would remove FECA’s specified time horizons for “electioneering communication” from foreign nationals.

The bill’s full title is the Preventing Adversaries Internationally from Disbursing Advertising Dollars Act.

Impact

Foreign nationals; foreign nations; political advertising; foreign nations’ and foreign nationals’ attempts to purchase broadcast, cable, satellite, or digital communications in favor of or against candidates for office; foreign nations’ and foreign nationals’ attempts to purchase issue ads; and the FECA.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1962

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSenate Rules Committee Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced this bill to expand the scope of the prohibition on political activity by foreign nationals

“Our intelligence community has been clear—foreign powers continue to interfere in our elections and they’ll keep doing so unless we stop them. Strengthening our campaign finance laws to prohibit paid political advertisements by foreign nationals and foreign governments is necessary to ensure American elections are free and fair.”

Original cosponsor Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, adds

“Russia’s massive and unprecedented interference in our last presidential election revealed a number of vulnerabilities in our election system. And now that the Kremlin’s playbook is out in the open, we can expect more of the same in 2020, from Russia or elsewhere. We need to get serious about protecting our elections from foreign interference. This bill is just one commonsense measure we should adopt to strengthen our democracy against foreign intervention.”

Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), sponsor of this bill’s House companion as well as an amendment to H.R. 1, the For the People Act, that included this legislation, says

“I'm proud to introduce the bipartisan PAID AD Act, which would make it illegal for foreign entities to purchase ads on TV or social media to influence our elections — something we now know happened extensively in Michigan in 2016. Stopping foreign entities from influencing U.S. elections is not a partisan issue. As a former CIA analyst and Pentagon official, I believe it's an issue of national security and preserving our democracy, and I'm proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in introducing this bill.”

In a July 2, 2019 op-ed, The Washington Post’s editorial board raised concerns about whether it’s truly fair — or reasonable — to bar foreign governments from buying issue ads: 

“[B]arring issue ads altogether treads tricky free expression territory, not least because of the difficulty of defining what qualifies as a topic of sufficient political importance. True, foreign governments and lobbyists do not have First Amendment rights, but these rules would not only affect scheming Russians. Our North American neighbors, for example, might want to educate the American electorate about the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade. And the United States has its own interests in funding the promotion of democracy abroad. What message would it send to other countries to bar them from advancing their views here as we advance ours there?”

The Post editorial board notes that Sen. Klobuchar’s Honest Ads Act, which would increase disclosure requirements for both domestic and foreign actors, is a “gentler way to address [issue] ads to ensure that Americans know who paid to persuade them.” However, weighing the Honest Ad Act against the PAID AD Act, the editorial board doesn’t express support for either piece of legislation. Instead, it concludes that Congress must “ask whether disclosure is enough — and if it is not, whether the threat of further foreign interference is enough to accept tamping down on countries’ ability to communicate their message beyond their borders.” With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) refusal to bring election security bills up for votes in mind, they add that McConnell “must” let Congress debate this issue.

This legislation has two Democratic Senate cosponsors. Its House companion, sponsored by Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), has seven bipartisan House cosponsors, including six Democrats and one Republican. Neither bill has received a committee vote.

Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) introduced bipartisan companion legislation as an amendment to H.R. 1, the For the People Act, in the House. Their amendment was included in the bill, passing by a voice vote. The For the People Act then passed the House by a 234-193 party-line vote, but has yet to receive a Senate vote. 

It’s unlikely that the For the People Act will receive a Senate vote, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has called it a "power grab" and declared that the "sprawling 622-page doorstop is never going to become law."


Of NoteThe Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) currently prohibits foreign nationals from contributing directly to campaigns, making independent expenditures, or buying electioneering communications. However, the definition of “electioneering communication” is narrow and creates a loophole by which foreign nationals may lawfully exert influence in the American electoral system.

In his report, Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed that the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll farm,” created accounts on social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, to post content that reached about 126 million Americans from 2013-2018. The New York Times reported that Russian ad purchases particularly targeted battleground states.

Both Sens. Klobuchar and Warner have attempted to force floor votes on other election security bills they’ve introduced in the current Congress. However, their efforts have been blocked by Senate Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has consistently refused to allow floor votes on election security measures, citing concerns around the potential for these measures to federalize elections.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / bee32)

AKA

PAID AD Act

Official Title

A bill to prevent foreign adversaries from influencing elections by prohibiting foreign nationals from purchasing at any time a broadcast, cable, or satellite communications that mentions a clearly identified candidate for Federal office, and for other purposes.

    Obviously, the purchase of ads to media blitz and mislead the public are highly effective- that’s why political candidates spend so much on tv-blitzes during campaigns. Foreign self interests cannot be allowed to influence our elections in any way. One of our Country’s greatest strengths is our open society which champions everyone’s right to express their opinions. This is also our country’s greatest vulnerability- in that our ‘openness’ is relatively easy to dupe or exploit in today’s world of near instantaneous information communications. We need the the type of protection this bill represents to preserve what we value and protect us from those who would exploit those values.
    Like (109)
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    America is heavily involved in other countries... I’d say other nations should be able to spend money on advertising if they want, provided that they specify who is paying for the political ad.
    Like (11)
    Follow
    Share
    It’s obviously important to prevent foreign advertising for political issues.
    Like (71)
    Follow
    Share
    Groups paying for political ads should have to identify their true selfs to the public, that would take the malice and profit out of duping their targeted audience.
    Like (38)
    Follow
    Share
    Why on earth would we let people unable to vote in our election have any say in our election?
    Like (33)
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    Duh 🙄, yes they should be prohibited from interfering at all in our election process!
    Like (26)
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    American elections should be decided by Americans and free of foreign influence
    Like (23)
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    👍🏻👍🏻 Senate Bill AKA the PAID AD Act 👍🏻👍🏻 I’m in agreement with and recommend the passage of the Senate Bill AKA the PAID AD Act — would make it illegal for foreign nationals to purchase broadcast, cable, satellite, or digital communications naming a candidate for office at any point in time. It would also prevent foreign governments and foreign lobbyists from buying issue ads.  As Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election illustrates, foreign governments are easily able to exert undue — and corrosive — influence in U.S. elections through political ads. Prohibiting such actions by foreign nationals is an important step towards blocking foreign nations’ interference in American democracy. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. 8.23.10.....
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    Stop all interference by foreigners. Watch the American fascists and trators.
    Like (16)
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    Why allow hostile powers to influence our elections? Isn’t that how banana republics operate? This is the most corrupt administration in our history!
    Like (15)
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    Yes. Support Amy Klobuchar’s bill to ban foreign nationals from pushing political and/or issues advertising in all forms of media and communications in the USA.
    Like (14)
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    jimK you need to run for office. I agree 100% with you once again. Obviously, the purchase of ads to media blitz and mislead the public are highly effective- that’s why political candidates spend so much on tv-blitzes during campaigns. Foreign self interests cannot be allowed to influence our elections in any way. One of our Country’s greatest strengths is our open society which champions everyone’s right to express their opinions. This is also our country’s greatest vulnerability- in that our ‘openness’ is relatively easy to dupe or exploit in today’s world of near instantaneous information communications. We need the the type of protection this bill represents to preserve what we value and protect us from those who would exploit those values.
    Like (13)
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    Keeping American politics for Americans. I cannot see how allowing support for foreign governments to influence our political discussions for their beliefs and benefit would be a positive thing for our country.
    Like (13)
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    After 2016 this should be done.
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    I fully support and recommend passage of this bill. This should include foreign nationals and governments. It’s not only Russia but China who undermines our elections. #MAGA
    Like (11)
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    Having foreigners advertise in any way in politics is ridiculous. They should be barred from doing so.
    Like (10)
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    Foreign interference must be prohibited from continuing to interfere with our democratic process.
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    Foreign interests have no business getting involved in American elections! Only the American people should have a say in how our government operates!
    Like (9)
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    Foreigners should not interfere with our government
    Like (8)
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    There is too much Lobbying done by corporations and foreign entities! Only individuals should be allowed to influence elections and they should be made liable if their statements are not true!!
    Like (8)
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