WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) announced the Committee approved the Matthew Young Pollard Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019 by a unanimous bipartisan vote of 15-0. The bill authorizes funding, provides appropriate legal authorities and enhances Congressional oversight for the U.S. Intelligence Community. It is named after Matt Pollard, a dedicated Committee staffer who passed away in April.
“The 2019 Intelligence Authorization Act represents a bipartisan effort to enhance America’s national security and increase government efficiency,” said Chairman Burr. “With ever-increasing threats from China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, we recognize that the Intelligence Community (IC) must have the resources, authorities and personnel necessary to keep America safe, while still remaining accountable to Congress for their efforts and expenditures. New security clearance reforms included in this bill will help deter insider threats, protect classified information and ensure the IC has a capable, agile workforce. Lastly, in the wake of foreign efforts to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections, which this Committee continues to investigate, I am pleased to see this bill contains comprehensive measures to enhance our election security. It is vital that we ensure our voting process remains fair and free from undue influence.”
“It is important that the full Senate take up and pass this bipartisan legislation, so that the men and women of the Intelligence Community (IC) have the resources they need to do their jobs and keep us safe,” said Vice Chairman Warner. “This legislation includes a number of important provisions to modernize our antiquated security clearance process and reduce the 700,000-person security clearance backlog. It also includes my provision requiring the Director of National Intelligence to report on the IC’s outreach to U.S. businesses and other nongovernment entities on efforts by adversaries such as China to acquire technology, intellectual property and R&D. The bill continues initiatives this Committee has undertaken on a bipartisan basis to push the IC to foster innovation in its approach to overhead satellite systems. Finally, as we approach the 2018 elections, the bill includes important measures to protect U.S. federal and state election systems – including from Russian threats – and to improve information sharing with states to ensure the integrity of the election process.”
The 2019 IAA includes provisions that will help:
- Deter and counter aggression from foreign state actors, such as Russia and China, both at home and abroad;
- Protect the U.S. government’s supply chain from sabotage and counterintelligence threats;
- Improve our security clearance process to make the Intelligence Community more robust, skilled, and agile;
- Institute reforms for science, technology, engineering or mathematic (STEM) recruitment and retention in Intelligence Community positions, such as cybersecurity experts; and
- Enhance election security to protect our voting process from foreign intelligence threats and efforts to influence the election process.
In May 2018, the Committee released the first installment in its Russia report, which provided recommendations to improve U.S. election security in the face of interference from foreign actors. Among the Committee’s recommendations to address ongoing vulnerabilities were creating effective deterrence, improving information sharing on threats and securing election-related systems. A summary of the Committee’s findings can be found here.
Last week, the Committee held a hearing to examine the policy response to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. Michael Daniel, former Special Assistant to the President and Cyber Security Coordinator under President Obama, testified that it is “highly likely” Russian actors scanned election systems in all 50 states for vulnerabilities. He also told the Committee that the U.S. should expect and be prepared to combat continued attempts at election interference. You can watch the hearing here.