WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), both members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Tuesday introduced an amendment to the FY 2019 Defense Appropriations bill that would transfer $40 million to the U.S. Department of State for the Global Engagement Center (GEC), as authorized in law and agreed to in a joint Memorandum of Agreement, to expose and counter foreign propaganda and influence. The $40 million allotted for FY 2018 has not yet been transferred to the GEC.
Murphy and Portman introduced the Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, which was signed into law in December 2016. The law improved the ability of the United States to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation by establishing the Global Engagement Center (GEC), which is charged with leading the U.S. government’s efforts to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation.
“Countering Russia will take close coordination with all of our allies, but there are precise actions that Congress can take right now to strengthen our defenses,” said Murphy. “Fighting propaganda will help small democracies resist Russia’s interference and stand on their own two feet.”
“We must ensure the State Department’s Global Engagement Center has the resources to counter efforts to undermine our, and our allies, democratic institutions and values,” Portman said. “Congress has already made clear that the key players in our government, including the Defense Department need to have skin in the game in this effort. That means contributing resources. The State Department has a plan ready to execute on this funding and it’s long overdue for the Defense Department, with Congressional approval, to get this funding transferred. The fact that Russia continues to advance their disinformation efforts makes clear the need to ramp up these programs. Now is not the time for us to shortchange them through lack of funding.”
The Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act authorized the State Department to request $60 million annually for two years from the Department of Defense for the GEC to help counter foreign propaganda and disinformation being waged against the United States and our allies by state and non-state adversaries.