03.29.18

Leahy And Other Appropriations Leaders Meet With NATO Officials On National Security Threats

Senator Patrick Leahy and other members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees will meet today and Friday with NATO officials, at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, about national security issues facing the United States and its NATO allies.

The meetings come as the United States and the NATO allies are acting to counter a variety of security threats, especially from Russia, which include interference in elections, the conflict in Syria, cyber warfare, and the attempted murder on English soil of a former Russian intelligence agent.  Great Britain, the United States and other NATO powers attribute the assassination plot to the Russian government.  The United States this week joined other NATO members in expelling dozens of Russians with diplomatic passports. 

They will also discuss cybersecurity and privacy issues, including the recent Facebook disclosures.  Leahy has voiced concerns about the Facebook revelations and will be pressing those concerns in an upcoming hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he also is a leading member.

The bipartisan congressional delegation is led by Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the expected incoming chairman of the Appropriations Committee.  Leahy is Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which handles the Senate’s work in writing the annual federal government budget bills.  Last week Congress passed and the President signed the Omnibus Appropriations Bill that funds the federal government for the rest of this fiscal year. 

The Omnibus Appropriations Bill includes a Leahy-backed appropriation of $380 million to improve the security of U.S. election systems prior to the 2018 elections.  The funds will be used for election technology grants to states for improvement and security of voting systems.  Leahy had met recently with Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, a leader among the nation’s secretaries of state in advocating for the grants.  The Omnibus bill also provides $10.1 million for the Election Assistance Commission, $500,000 more than last year and $900,000 more than the President’s budget request. With this funding, EAC will act to help ensure that voting systems are tested to federal standards.

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