White House Threatens to Veto House-Passed Election Security Bill

Evan Vucci/AP

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The SHIELD Act would require political campaigns to report offers of campaign assistance from foreign powers to the FBI.

The latest election security bill to pass the House received a veto threat from President Trump, though it—like at least three other House-passed election-related bills—appears dead on arrival in the Senate.

The Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy, or SHIELD Act, cleared the House Wednesday and would require political campaigns and committees to report offers of campaign assistance from foreign powers to the FBI and law enforcement entities. It would also amend the Federal Election Campaign Act to clamp down on campaign spending from foreign nations and increase transparency in political ads posted on social media platforms.

In addition, the SHIELD Act, sponsored by House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., would make it illegal for campaigns to exchange campaign-related information with agents of foreign governments.

In a statement Wednesday, the White House threatened to veto the bill, suggesting it was overly broad, redundant and “would result in significant over reporting to the FBI and [Federal Election Commission], leading to fruitless inquiries and wasted time and resources.” The White House’s threat to veto may not matter. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the SHIELD Act Wednesday as an attack on First Amendment rights.

The SHIELD Act’s companion legislation in the Senate was one of three election-security related bills Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., sought unanimous consent to pass Wednesday. However, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., refused, essentially blocking the bills. 

“The alarm bells are going off and what are we doing? We’re running out of time to do something about it," Warner said on the Senate floor.