August 11, 2017

Portman, Murphy call on State Department to step up efforts to counter Russian propaganda

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) issued a statement in response to a report by the media outlet Politico that the State Department has yet to request funding already appropriated by Congress to help counter Russian propaganda.

“Congress has provided substantial resources to combat foreign propaganda, particularly from Russia. There is broad agreement that the U.S. government is behind the curve on this threat,” said Sen. Portman.

“Countering foreign propaganda should be a top priority, and it is very concerning that progress on combating this problem is being delayed because the State Department isn’t tapping into these resources. The State Department should take swift action to fully fund the GEC and ensure that it is capable of carrying out the purposes Congress directed, particularly as they relate to Russia and other state-sponsored foreign disinformation,” he pointed out.

Sen. Murphy commented: “This is indefensible. Every day, ISIS is spreading terrorist propaganda and Russia is implementing a sophisticated disinformation campaign to undermine the United States and our allies. There should be no doubt these are critical challenges to our national security. My bill with Sen. Portman finally set our country up to fight back. Congress did our part, now it’s up to the administration to pick up the ball and run with it.”

“I strongly urge Secretary Tillerson to take this issue seriously and use the tools and resources he has at his disposal to stand up to our adversaries,” he added.

Sens. Portman and Murphy’s legislation – the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act – was signed into law as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report. The law is designed to improve the ability of the United States to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation from its enemies by establishing an interagency center – the Global Engagement Center (GEC) – housed at the State Department to coordinate and synchronize counter-propaganda efforts throughout the U.S. government.

The law authorized the State Department to request $60 million annually for two years from the Department of Defense for the GEC to help counter the foreign propaganda and disinformation being waged against the U.S. and its allies by state and non-state adversaries.

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