Submitted by Rep. Heck’s Office
Wednesday U.S. Representative Denny Heck (WA-10) joined a bipartisan discharge petition to allow a vote on H.R. 356, the Protecting Our Democracy Act. If the discharge petition gains 218 signatures of House members, the House will vote on the bill to create a 12-member, bipartisan, independent commission to examine attempts by the Russian government and others to influence the 2016 U.S. elections.
Statement from Rep. Heck after signing the discharge petition:
“Since December, I have asked that Congress take the Russian interference investigation out of the political arena and put it in the hands of a separate, independent entity that can thoroughly examine what happened and how to stop it from ever happening again. The better path would be for Speaker Ryan to schedule a vote, so we can send the bill to the Senate without delay. Because he hasn’t scheduled a vote, we need to pursue this process.
“The American people deserve Congressional action on this incredibly important manner. The fact that we need this bill gives me no joy. This is a grave time in our nation’s history, for people of all political beliefs and parties. We have to rally together to get to the bottom of this. Congress has a duty to do what we can to protect the American people from being politically misled or targeted by a foreign adversary, and as painful as these findings could be, we need to know the truth. Doing nothing would let the bad guys win.”
Congressman Heck announced his support for the establishment of an independent commission on December 15, 2016, and on January 6, 2017, he signed on to support the Protecting Our Democracy Act. The bill would create a 12-member, bipartisan, independent commission empowered to interview witnesses, obtain documents, issue subpoenas, and receive public testimony to examine attempts by the Russian government and others to interfere in the democratic process. The commission would examine similar efforts by any other foreign governments or entities and would issue a final report with recommendations for future security protections to Congress and the President within 18 months of the bill’s enactment.
The scope of the commission’s investigation would include computer hacking activity that targeted the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chairman John Podesta, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell; the scanning of electoral systems in Arizona, Illinois and Florida; and efforts by any foreign entity to produce, disseminate, or promote fake news involving the U.S. election.
The 12 members of the commission would be appointed within 90 days of enactment by the Speaker of the House (3), Senate Majority Leader (3), House Minority Leader (3), and Senate Minority Leader (3), and the commission would choose a chair and vice chair of different parties. No federal officers or employees would be eligible to serve on the commission. Appointees would be U.S. citizens with significant experience in governmental service, law enforcement, armed services, law, public administration, intelligence gathering, foreign affairs, cybersecurity, and federal elections.