[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 102 (Thursday, June 15, 2017)]
[Page S3551]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. President, the United States must send an 
unequivocal message to Vladimir Putin: we will not tolerate attacks on 
democracy in the United States or in Europe. That is why I have long 
pressed for harsher sanctions on Russia, including with Secretary of 
State Tillerson in his June 13 appearance before the Senate 
Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. I am a 
strong supporter of amendment No. 232 to S. 722 on Russia sanctions. 
While I missed the vote on June 14 due to an unanticipated illness, I 
would have voted yes had I been present. I voted yes on the passage of 
S. 722 today.
  The Kremlin's ambitions are clear. It interferes in elections in the 
United States and Europe, in an attempt to undermine public faith in 
the democratic process. It wants to erode the cohesion and strength of 
our NATO alliance. It bolsters the hand of brutal dictators like Bashar 
al-Assad. It wages wars in Ukraine and Georgia, supporting 
insurrections against the government. It seeks to reestablish a leading 
role on the world's stage through an unraveling of the international 
  Russia's use of subversion, disinformation, and irregular warfare are 
nothing new. However, in this last U.S. presidential cycle, Russia 
launched an unprecedented and multifaceted campaign to undermine our 
elections--a view corroborated by our entire intelligence community. 
Russia paid more than 1,000 people--human trolls--to work out of a 
facility in St. Petersburg. These trolls spent their waking hours 
creating anti-Clinton fake news reports and disseminating these stories 
in key States and districts. Russia also used thousands of botnets to 
echo and amplify these fake news stories. Russia also targeted the 
election boards of 39 States in our country, successfully infiltrating 
at least four voter registration databases and gaining access to 
hundreds of thousands of voter records. They even attempted to 
infiltrate the Maryland State Elections Board, but were not successful.
  In response to these attacks, I filed an amendment to S. 722 that 
would ensure the United States develops a strategic, long-term approach 
to combat Russia's cyber warfare. My amendment requires a unified 
strategy developed with our NATO allies and European partners to 
counter Russia's cyber attacks, including Russia's efforts to undermine 
our democratic elections. It would also require the FBI to establish a 
high-level cybersecurity liaison for Presidential campaigns and major 
national campaign committees, so that the United States is prepared for 
Russia's next attempt to interfere with our elections. The liaison 
would share cyber threats as they arise and cyber security protocols 
with these organizations to stave off cyber attacks. Given the critical 
importance of shoring up our own cyber defenses, I plan to introduce 
this amendment as standalone legislation at a later point.
  I also filed a second amendment to S. 722 that prohibits the 
President from returning diplomatic compounds in Maryland and New York 
that the United States seized last December, in response to Russian 
interference in our elections. It is outrageous that President Trump is 
considering allowing the Russians access to these facilities, which 
they used to spy on the United States. I am proud to have worked with 
Senator Cardin to incorporate this provision into the larger Russia 
sanctions bill. Senator Cardin and I will keep working to hold Russia 
and the Trump administration accountable.
  This legislation demonstrates to our allies and partners around the 
world that the United States will not stand idly when our democracy is 
under attack. I commend my colleagues for working across the aisle to 
impose tougher sanctions on Russia. Today the Senate put patriotism 
over partisanship.