Amidst Ongoing Foreign Efforts to Influence Midterm Elections, Cantwell Continues Push for Enhanced Cybersecurity

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As ongoing foreign efforts to influence the U.S. midterm elections continue to be identified, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today continued her call for increased cybersecurity threat assessments and resources to protect U.S. election systems and other critical infrastructure.

Last week, Cantwell co-sponsored legislation to establish severe consequences for Russia if they continue their efforts to disrupt American elections. In a Senate Commerce Subcommittee hearing today, Cantwell called for the United States to work with partners around the world to prevent cyber interference in elections.

“The United States should be leading the charge internationally to say that trying to influence the election process in a cyber way is a cyber crime,” Senator Cantwell said. “No government should be involved in interfering with the actual election operations. End of story.”

At the hearing, former U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff strongly agreed with Cantwell’s push.

“I completely agree that we ought to work with all of our like-minded colleagues overseas to say that interfering with the actual infrastructure of elections is completely off-limits and unacceptable,” Secretary Chertoff said in response to questions from Senator Cantwell.

In addition to calling for more protections for U.S. elections infrastructure, Senator Cantwell also highlighted a bipartisan letter she sent last week to President Trump urging the federal government to take greater action to defend the U.S. energy grid from cyber threats and attacks.

“That’s why last week, my colleague Senator Graham and I sent a letter to the President saying, ‘Please step up,’” Cantwell said. “Attacks to the grid and [other] large-scale efforts… can be very devastating to the United States.”

Cantwell has been the leading voice in Congress on protecting critical U.S. infrastructure, including election systems and the energy grid, from cyber attacks. On March 14, 2017, and June 22, 2017, Senator Cantwell sent letters to President Trump calling on him to defend energy infrastructure and to instruct DOE to conduct an analysis of Russian capabilities with respect to cyber attacks on U.S. energy infrastructure. In hearing after hearing, Cantwell has pressed for increased collaboration between the government, private sector, utilities, military, and academia to protect U.S. energy infrastructure from cyber attacks. And this March, Senator Cantwell helped to secure $380 million in funding for grants to help states, including Washington, protect their election systems.

TV-quality video of the hearing is available HERE, video from YouTube is available HERE, and audio from the hearing is available HERE.