Press Releases

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and John Cornyn (R-TX) sent a letter to Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Rob Portman (R-OH), Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, requesting that the Committee favorably report the Air America Act of 2021 (S. 407) to the full Senate as soon as possible. Senators Warner and Rubio reintroduced the legislation on February 24, 2021.

Air America, a government-owned corporation, employed several hundred U.S. citizens, mainly flight crew members, until 1976. During its existence, approximately 286 Air Americans were killed in the line of duty while conducting covert operations in designated war zones. In 1975, the last helicopter mission that rescued personnel from the rooftops in Saigon was planned and executed by Air America and the United States Marine Corps. This legislation would ensure that these individuals receive the benefits they are owed under the Civil Service Retirement System.

“The fight to ensure Air America employees receive the benefits they have earned is not a partisan issue, nor is it a new issue,” wrote the Senators. “It is time for Congress to act.”

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Chairman Peters and Ranking Member Portman: 

We respectfully request that the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs consider and report S. 407, the Air America Act of 2021, to the full Senate as soon as possible. 

The bill, which was first introduced last Congress, would ensure the brave employees of Air America receive the retirement benefits they have earned. As you may be aware, Air America was a government-owned corporation that conducted covert operations during the Cold War, Korean War, and Vietnam War and operated under the direct policy control of the White House, Department of Defense, and the Department of State while under the management of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The fight to ensure Air America employees receive the benefits they have earned is not a partisan issue, nor is it a new issue. Legislation to provide benefits to Air America employees was first introduced by then Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) in 2005. The bill currently has 29 bipartisan cosponsors, including five members of your committee from both sides of the aisle. Over the last 16 years, the Office of Personnel Management, the Merit Systems Protection Board, the CIA and the Director of National Intelligence have all concluded that Congressional action is required. It is time for Congress to act. 

For these reasons, we respectfully urge you to consider and report to the full Senate this important bill as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON– Today, Virginia U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, urged President Joe Biden to fully consider how the Trump Administration’s decision to relocate U.S. Space Command may affect Intelligence Community (IC) dependencies and missions and the country’s ability to maintain superiority in space 

On January 13, 2021, the Administration announced that Huntsville, Alabama would be the permanent headquarters of U.S. Space Command. Following this announcement, reports surfaced that President Donald Trump politicized the process, choosing to relocate U.S. Space Command from its provisional headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

In a letter to President Biden, Bennet and Warner, members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, cite the collaboration and interoperability between the IC and Department of Defense, and urged the administration to review the process by which this decision was made and to ensure intelligence community missions and capabilities are fully considered.

“The Committee has encouraged collaboration in the space domain between the IC and the Department of Defense (DoD) in order to increase the unity of effort and effectiveness in space operations. In Colorado, important investments have been made in recent years to enhance this collaboration and interoperability, in particular at the National Space Defense Center (NSDC),” wrote the senators. “It is critical that any decision to move Space Command from its current location take into account the potential effects of such a move on the operational integration between the IC and DoD space communities at NSDC and at other joint sites in Colorado.”

The senators also noted the importance of spending resources in a manner that effectively meets the accelerating pace of threats to U.S. space capabilities. Colorado is already home to many specialized defense and intelligence civilian employees and contractors. The cost of relocating personnel, as well as the high costs for constructing a new Space Command headquarters, should be considerations for permanently keeping it in Colorado Springs. 

“Furthermore, we are keenly aware of the threats in space and the criticality of maintaining U.S. superiority in the face of an evolving threat landscape,” the Senators continued. “According to a 2019 estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, construction costs for the new command headquarters could be as high as $1.1 billion. Workforce disruption is another key consideration, given the many defense and intelligence civilian employees and contractors working on space programs in Colorado at the highest levels of classification. Space is a critical national security issue, and we cannot squander time, talent, or money on unnecessary expenditures or delays.” 

The text of the letter is available HERE and below.  

Dear President Biden:

We write concerning the Trump administration’s decision to move United States Space Command from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Huntsville, Alabama. As members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, we are concerned this decision did not take into account how such a move may affect Intelligence Community (IC) dependencies and missions. We therefore request you review the process by which this decision was made, and to ensure IC equities are fully considered.

The Committee has encouraged collaboration in the space domain between the IC and the Department of Defense (DoD) in order to increase the unity of effort and effectiveness in space operations. In Colorado, important investments have been made in recent years to enhance this collaboration and interoperability, in particular at the National Space Defense Center (NSDC). It is critical that any decision to move Space Command from its current location take into account the potential effects of such a move on the operational integration between the IC and DoD space communities at NSDC and at other joint sites in Colorado.

Furthermore, we are keenly aware of the threats in space and the criticality of maintaining U.S. superiority in the face of an evolving threat landscape. We have consistently made this a priority in recent years, with careful oversight of dollars spent and an eye toward the allocation of scarce resources among national security priorities. According to a 2019 estimate from the Congressional Budget Office, construction costs for the new command headquarters could be as high as $1.1 billion. Workforce disruption is another key consideration, given the many defense and intelligence civilian employees and contractors working on space programs in Colorado at the highest levels of classification. Space is a critical national security issue, and we cannot squander time, talent, or money on unnecessary expenditures or delays.

We therefore ask you to review the parameters and method by which this decision was evaluated, to ensure we are appropriately valuing existing collaboration and interdependencies between the IC and DoD space communities in Colorado, taking advantage of the current co-location of these communities and pools of expertise, and spending resources in a manner that effectively meets the accelerating pace of threats to our overhead space capabilities.

We appreciate your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (Both D-Va.) and Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (Both D-Md.) are urging President Joe Biden to resume the process of selecting a new home for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that meets the stringent security and logistical needs for our nation’s premier law enforcement agency. In a letter to the president Friday, the lawmakers press for the General Services Administration and FBI to pick up where they left off before the Trump administration upended the national security project. In 2014, after an exhaustive process, GSA narrowed down the list of potential locations to two sites in Prince George’s County, Md., and one site in Springfield, Va. 

“For more than a decade, the condition and security of the FBI’s existing headquarters in the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. have been serious concerns of Congress, which has provided authorizations and appropriations for a new consolidated headquarters at one of three previously identified sites. Unfortunately, the previous administration undermined this project, requiring your urgent attention to put it back on track,” the Senators wrote.

“We urge you to address the need for a new consolidated FBI headquarters. While we recognize that the previous administration’s actions were a setback for the project, we request that GSA and FBI finalize the plan as soon as possible, focusing the renewed effort on the sites previously identified as the top candidates and making use of the completed Draft Environmental Impact Statement to the fullest extent possible,” they added. 

In 2011, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a resolution which provided the GSA with official guidance on the framework for the project. Drafted to reflect the FBI’s needs and priorities, the Senate resolution outlined requirements for proximity to the Metro System and Washington Beltway, minimum acreage for the site, and a financing strategy which directed GSA to enter into a private sector lease with a private firm to build a 2.1 million square foot, secure facility on federally owned land that would be leased to the FBI and ownership of which would revert to the Federal government at the end of the lease at no additional cost. 

The full letter follows and can be found at this link

Dear President Biden:

We write today to request that you provide clear direction to the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Justice to move forward expeditiously on the process of constructing a new consolidated headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). For more than a decade, the condition and security of the FBI’s existing headquarters in the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. have been serious concerns of Congress, which has provided authorizations and appropriations for a new consolidated headquarters at one of three previously identified sites. Unfortunately, the previous administration undermined this project, requiring your urgent attention to put it back on track.

Since 2011, Congress has repeatedly called for action to address the FBI’s outdated and inadequate facilities at the J. Edgar Hoover Building, through the approval of GSA resolutions and the inclusion of funding in various appropriations bills. After the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a GSA resolution that set forth guidelines for the site selection process in 2011, GSA issued its Phase I Request for Proposals (RFP) and announced eligible sites for the new headquarters in 2014. In 2015, GSA identified a short list of offerors to proceed to Phase II of the RFP, and the Office of Management and Budget announced that the FBI would reduce its footprint in the Washington, DC region, consolidating both the Hoover Building and multiple leased buildings into one location, and narrowed the list to three sites. In January 2016, GSA issued the Phase II RFP to these qualified offerors. 

The Trump Administration’s move in 2017 to cancel the project ignored the intent of Congress and scrapped years’ worth of planning, organizing, and resources devoted to the project. Inquiries by members of the House of Representatives and the Senate into the White House’s role in canceling the project were met with obfuscation by agency officials. In a last-ditch effort to ensure the FBI remained on Pennsylvania Avenue, the former President advocated for funding for renovating the existing FBI headquarters in a COVID-19 relief package, which Congress rejected.

We urge you to address the need for a new consolidated FBI headquarters. While we recognize that the previous administration’s actions were a setback for the project, we request that GSA and FBI finalize the plan as soon as possible, focusing the renewed effort on the sites previously identified as the top candidates and making use of the completed Draft Environmental Impact Statement to the fullest extent possible. Congress has appropriated close to a billion dollars for this endeavor, between direct appropriations and transfer authorities, available until expended, and, according to the enacted FY21 Omnibus Appropriations bill, required GSA to submit a plan to the committees of jurisdiction consistent with a typical prospectus request by March 27, 2021.  As of this date, a plan has not been submitted and although GSA continues to coordinate with FBI, it is unclear when the required report will be submitted to Congress.

The FBI’s current headquarters facility – the J. Edgar Hoover Building – has significantly deteriorated over the past 45 years. The building has crumbling facades, aging infrastructure, and security limitations that are severely impeding the FBI’s ability to meet its critical law enforcement and national security missions.

Further delay on a new FBI headquarters creates added risks, costs, and missed opportunities. Despite the political obstacles of recent years, we hope you will consider our request and provide the direction needed for this crucial project to move forward expeditiously.  

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, joined Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden requesting that he fund the initiatives to restore semiconductor manufacturing to American soil from the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act that were signed into law as part of the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act. 

They wrote, “We write today to encourage you to prioritize securing funding to implement the initiatives authorized in the CHIPS for America Act that were enacted into law as part of the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. 

“We would specifically request you consider joining us in support of funding levels that are at least the authorized amounts proposed in the original bill as you work with Congress on a package of policies to better compete with China and how best to strengthen our country’s economic competitiveness and resiliency as well as national security.”

He was joined on the letter by Senators Tom Cotton (R-AK), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), James Risch (R-ID), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Angus King (I-ME), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Todd Young (R-IN), Gary Peters (D-MI), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tim Scott (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY). 

The full text of the letter is here and below.

Dear President Biden,

We write today to encourage you to prioritize securing funding to implement the initiatives authorized in the CHIPS for America Act that were enacted into law as part of the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (referred to as the ‘CHIPS provisions’). We would specifically request you consider joining us in support of funding levels that are at least the authorized amounts proposed in the original bill as you work with Congress on a package of policies to better compete with China and how best to strengthen our country’s economic competitiveness and resiliency as well as national security. 

While signing your Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains on February 24, 2021, we were pleased to hear your comments: “bipartisan work has already been done…We need to make sure these supply chains are secure and reliable. I’m directing senior officials in my administration to work with industrial leaders to identify solutions to this semiconductor shortfall and work very hard with the House and Senate.” We agree that the United States must build on the bipartisan Congressional efforts to authorize the CHIPS provisions and now swiftly move to fund these programs so they can be implemented and begin to address the current supply-chain vulnerabilities that threaten our national and economic security and ensure our nation’s continued global leadership in this critical technology. We are especially encouraged by the opportunity to do emergency mandatory funding for implementation of CHIPS as part of a competitiveness package the Senate is currently compiling, and would welcome your support in that effort.

The United States cannot wait to provide these resources over the years ahead. The halted production lines for consumer technology, auto manufacturers, truckers, and other critical industries due to a semiconductor shortage further highlights the pressing need to act quickly and fund the enacted bipartisan provisions. 

In your Build Back Better initiative, you recognized the value of restoring critical supply chains to U.S. soil to help revitalize our domestic manufacturing capacity and create good-paying jobs. Full funding and implementation of CHIPS would reinvigorate our economy by creating high-paying jobs, developing talent pipelines for American workers, and increasing technological innovation. The CHIPS provisions authorize funding for manufacturing, R&D and job-training programs, with a focus on creating pathways for Americans to acquire the skills necessary for these jobs, including expanding employment opportunities for disadvantaged workers. Ensuring these provisions are fully funded would support thousands of American jobs and create a ripple effect throughout the economy, benefiting countless industries, communities and working families.

In addition to enabling sustainable economic growth today, funding the CHIPS provisions is a top national security priority. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has aggressive plans to reorient and dominate the semiconductor supply chain, pouring over $150 billion in semiconductor manufacturing subsidies and investing $1.4 trillion in their efforts to become the dominate global technological power. Even full funding of the originally filed CHIPS provisions pales in comparison to the investments being made by the CCP, which speaks to why consideration of an even higher level of funding is worthwhile.

The United States must also work with our allies and strategic partners to out-scale the CCP in manufacturing capabilities for advanced semiconductors. If we lose these highly-skilled jobs and know-how to China, the United States will never recapture them. Further, we risk dependence on a strategic competitor for the advanced semiconductors that power our economy, military, and critical infrastructure.

As you develop your FY 2022 budget request, we encourage you to include some initial investments to support semiconductor R&D and manufacturing at agencies like Commerce, DOD, DOE, and NSF as intended by CHIPS. 

Finally, should you explore executive actions to address this urgent semiconductor matter, we encourage you to continue pursuing a technology neutral approach.

We are committed to meeting the national imperative of securing our critical supply chains and look forward to working with you and your Administration to achieve this vital objective.

Sincerely, 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after the Biden administration announced several steps to respond to Russian aggression, including interference in the 2020 election, the hack impacting thousands of SolarWinds customers, bounties on American soldiers in Afghanistan, and the illegal annexation of Crimea:

“I am glad to see the Biden administration formally attributing the SolarWinds hack to Russian intelligence services and taking steps to sanction some of the individuals and entities involved. The scale and scope of this hack are beyond any that we’ve seen before, and should make clear that we will hold Russia and other adversaries accountable for committing this kind of malicious cyber activity against American targets. Across both the public and private sector, we have a lot of work to do to deter our adversaries from conducting these types of damaging intrusions, and to guard against future interference in our elections. But this is a good first step in making clear that these sorts of actions are unacceptable and will be met with consequences.”

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WASHINGTON – Today Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) led a bipartisan group of Senators in urging President Joe Biden to request at least $3 billion as part of his budget request to Congress for the adoption of 5G alternatives to Chinese-made equipment. Specifically, the Senators urged Biden to request at least $1.5 billion each for two funds established by Congress to encourage the adoption of Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) equipment, which would allow additional vendors to enter the 5G market and compete with manufacturers like Huawei, which is heavily subsidized by the Chinese government.

“Current RAN infrastructure relies on closed, end-to-end hardware solutions that are expensive to operate and dominated by foreign companies. For example, Huawei, a company with inextricable links to the Chinese government and a history of disregard for the intellectual property rights of U.S. companies, offers end-to-end RAN hardware, which poses significant counterintelligence concerns. For years, we have called on telecommunications providers in the U.S., as well as our allies and partners, to reject Huawei 5G technology, but we have not provided competitively-priced, innovative alternatives that would address their needs,” the Senators wrote in a letter. “As wireless networks adapt to the growing demands for 5G connectivity, a new Open RAN architecture will allow telecommunications providers to migrate from the current hardware-centric approach into a software-centric model that  relies heavily on cloud-based services. This architecture will break down the current end-to-end proprietary stack of hardware; lower barriers to entry and prompt innovation; diversify the supply chain and decrease dependence on foreign suppliers; and spur Open RAN deployments throughout the United States, particularly in rural America. Providing resources for these Funds in your budget request presents an opportunity to realize this vision.”

Today’s letter was signed by bipartisan members of the Senate Intelligence Committee: Chairman Warner, Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Susan Collins (R-ME), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Angus King (I-ME), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Cornyn (R-TX), Bob Casey (D-PA), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

The full text of the letter appears below, and a copy is available here

Joseph R. Biden, Jr.   

The President

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20500

 

Dear Mr. President:

As you prepare your budget request for Fiscal Year 2022, we ask that you provide at least $1.5 billion each for both the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund and the Multilateral Telecommunications Security Fund.  These Funds provide critical foundations for  robust, secure, and efficient fifth-generation (5G) networks, and will be integral to the ability of the United States and its allies to adopt Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) equipment at a scale necessary to compete with the equipment vendors of our strategic rivals, including China.

These Funds, established in Section 9202 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, are consistent with your Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, which calls for investments to retain our scientific and technological edge, build secure 21st century digital infrastructure (including secure 5G networks), and partner with democratic friends and allies.  Investments in these Funds will also enable the development and deployment of an Open RAN approach to network standardization for nationwide 5G (and successor) wireless capabilities.

Current RAN infrastructure relies on closed, end-to-end hardware solutions that are expensive to operate and dominated by foreign companies.  For example, Huawei, a company with inextricable links to the Chinese government and a history of disregard for the intellectual property rights of U.S. companies, offers end-to-end RAN hardware, which poses significant counterintelligence concerns.  For years, we have called on telecommunications providers in the U.S., as well as our allies and partners, to reject Huawei 5G technology, but we have not provided competitively-priced, innovative alternatives that would address their needs. 

As wireless networks adapt to the growing demands for 5G connectivity, a new Open RAN architecture will allow telecommunications providers to migrate from the current hardware-centric approach into a software-centric model that  relies heavily on cloud-based services.  This architecture will break down the current end-to-end proprietary stack of hardware; lower barriers to entry and prompt innovation; diversify the supply chain and decrease dependence on foreign suppliers; and spur Open RAN deployments throughout the United States, particularly in rural America.  Providing resources for these Funds in your budget request presents an opportunity to realize this vision.

We look forward to working with you in a bipartisan manner on this critical national priority. 

Cc:

Mr. Ronald A. Klain, White House Chief of Staff

Mr. Jacob J. Sullivan, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Mr. Robert Fairweather, Acting Director, Office of Management and Budget

The Honorable Gina M. Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce

The Honorable Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

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WASHINGTON – Today, a bipartisan group of U.S. national security leaders penned a letter to the Biden administration urging it to strongly consider the provisions laid out in the bipartisan Democracy Technology Partnership Act. The bill – introduced by U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and a bipartisan group of Senators earlier this month – aims to develop a partnership and strategy among democratic countries to compete against growing technological strength and influence by the Chinese Communist Party and other authoritarian regimes.  

The letter is penned by a broad bipartisan cohort of national security experts including, Ash Carter, former U.S. Secretary of Defense; Jim Clapper, former Director of National Intelligence (DNI); Richard Danzig, former U.S. Secretary of the Navy; Michèle A. Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Richard Fontaine, Chief Executive Officer of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS); Stephen J. Hadley, former U.S. National Security Advisor; Michael V. Hayden, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA); Admiral William H. McRaven, retired U.S. Navy four-star Admiral and former Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command; Stephanie O’Sullivan, former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence; and Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO of New America and former Director of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State.

“We believe the bill offers an important idea: creating a diplomatic mechanism to execute a national security strategy, which places technology competition and international partnerships at its center,” the bipartisan national security leaders wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and U.S. National Security Advisory, Jake Sullivan. “The strength of the United States – politically, economically, and militarily – will depend on the ability of the United States and like-minded democratic countries to lead in the development and deployment of emerging and critical technologies. Significant advances are occurring across a variety of technology sectors, including wireless telecommunications, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, semiconductors and quantum computing, with major implications for every aspect of American life.” 

In the letter, the national security leaders describe how the Democracy Technology Partnership Act would help set international standards and norms on emerging and critical technologies. 

For the better half of a century, the United States led in scientific research and the development of transformational technologies, translating into significant economic and military benefits for the American people. This leadership also enabled us to set the rules of the road governing the use of new technologies in ways that reflected our democratic values,” they continued. “However, in recent years, as U.S. leadership has eroded, the People’s Republic of China has stepped up its efforts to dominate critical and emerging technologies. Their approach has included heavily subsidizing Chinese companies, conducting forced technology transfers, investing significantly in research and development, heavily promoting the global adoption of Chinese technologies, and leveraging international standard setting bodies. They have used these technologies for undemocratic ends internally, such as censorship and surveillance, and exported these technologies, with their illiberal values, abroad.”

“Given the size of the PRC and the scale of its investments, the United States cannot protect its technologies nor compete on its own. The world’s major liberal-democratic nations must work together to help set international standards and norms, conduct joint research, coordinate export controls and investment screening, and make collaborative investments abroad. The Democracy Technology Partnership Act outlines an important vision and strategic plan for how the United States should collaborate with friends and allies on a technology strategy while promoting and protecting our common interests. We ask for your strong consideration of its provisions,” they concluded.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

 

The Honorable Antony J. Blinken

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20520

 

Mr. Jake Sullivan

National Security Advisor

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, D.C. 20500

 

Dear Secretary Blinken and Mr. Sullivan:

We write to convey our support for the bipartisan Democracy Technology Partnership Act (S.604), recently introduced by Senators Warner, Menendez, Schumer, Young, Cornyn, Sasse, Rubio and Bennet. The bill establishes an office that would seek to create a new diplomatic partnership of the world’s tech-leading democracies to coordinate technology policy, standards, and development. We believe the bill offers an important idea: creating a diplomatic mechanism to execute a national security strategy, which places technology competition and international partnerships at its center.

The strength of the United States – politically, economically, and militarily – will depend on the ability of the United States and like-minded democratic countries to lead in the development and deployment of emerging and critical technologies. Significant advances are occurring across a variety of technology sectors, including wireless telecommunications, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, semiconductors and quantum computing, with major implications for every aspect of American life.   

For the better half of a century, the United States led in scientific research and the development of transformational technologies, translating into significant economic and military benefits for the American people. This leadership also enabled us to set the rules of the road governing the use of new technologies in ways that reflected our democratic values.  

However, in recent years, as U.S. leadership has eroded, the People’s Republic of China has stepped up its efforts to dominate critical and emerging technologies. Their approach has included heavily subsidizing Chinese companies, conducting forced technology transfers, investing significantly in research and development, heavily promoting the global adoption of Chinese technologies, and leveraging international standard setting bodies. They have used these technologies for undemocratic ends internally, such as censorship and surveillance, and exported these technologies, with their illiberal values, abroad.

Given the size of the PRC and the scale of its investments, the United States cannot protect its technologies nor compete on its own. The world’s major liberal-democratic nations must work together to help set international standards and norms, conduct joint research, coordinate export controls and investment screening, and make collaborative investments abroad. 

The Democracy Technology Partnership Act outlines an important vision and strategic plan for how the United States should collaborate with friends and allies on a technology strategy while promoting and protecting our common interests. We ask for your strong consideration of its provisions. 

Sincerely,

###

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released a statement after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a declassified Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA) on Foreign Threats to the 2020 U.S. Elections. As part of the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY18, FY19, and FY20, ODNI was required to release the declassified report examining elections interference in 2020:

“This report highlights the ongoing and persistent efforts by our adversaries to influence our elections, which all Americans should be informed about. Russia, in particular, has expended real effort, not just in 2020, but also as we all recall in 2016, to influence election results. I believe that the intelligence community has gotten much better at detecting these efforts, and we have built better defenses against election interference. But the problem of foreign actors trying to influence the American electorate is not going away and, given the current partisan divides in this country, may find fertile ground in which to grow in the future.”

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Cornyn (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Todd Young (R-IN), today introduced legislation to develop a partnership and strategy among democratic countries to compete against growing technological strength and influence by the Chinese Communist Party and other authoritarian regimes. The Democracy Technology Partnership Act would establish a U.S. interagency office at the State Department, tasked with creating a partnership among democratic countries to help set international standards and norms, conduct joint research, and coordinate export controls and investment screening on emerging and critical technologies.

“The Chinese Communist Party is working to surpass the U.S. technologically and economically and to export their technologies globally. In order to compete and counter the expansion of Chinese dominance in critical technology sectors, we need to create a strategy that leverages the power of American partnerships to protect and advance our technological edge,” said Sen. Warner. “This bipartisan legislation will help foster partnerships among the U.S. and like-minded democratic countries to better protect and compete against China in critical emerging technologies while helping set global rules, standards, and protocols for the market.”

“After four years of consistent failure under the Trump administration, one of our most important challenges will be to forge a coherent new national security strategy, particularly on cybersecurity and emerging technology, led by our values, centered on our democratic allies and partners, and implemented with consistency,” said Sen. Menendez. “The Democracy Technology Partnership Act is a bipartisan recognition that we have entered a new era of technology and geo-economic strategic competition with Beijing, and an acknowledgement that we will not overcome this challenge without technology partnerships and shared human ingenuity. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to invest in a broad diplomatic and security architecture that restores our nation’s position as the world’s greatest innovator and allows us to actually outperform China.” 

“Both Democrats and Republicans know that competing with China is one of the biggest challenges in the 21st Century,” said Majority Leader Schumer. “For years, I have been committed to confronting the Chinese government for cheating and stealing its way to economic growth. That’s why I am proud to help champion the bipartisan Democracy Technology Partnership Act, which will give like-minded democracies the edge needed to compete with the Chinese Communist Party. This initiative is an important next step in our mission to boost American competitiveness, leverage our alliances abroad and fight China’s predatory practices.”

“It’s no secret the Chinese Communist Party wants to reshape the emerging technology landscape to benefit their authoritarian aims. It is essential that the United States and our like-minded democratic allies around the world work together to set global standards that uphold our universal values,” said Sen. Young. “This bipartisan legislation marks a significant step forward for the United States in our ongoing effort to out-compete China and I look forward to working with my colleagues to see this passed into law.”

“Winning the long-term tech race with the Chinese Communist Party is foundational to our strategic relevance in the world. Chairman Xi has laid out an ambitious plan to displace the United States as the world’s preeminent superpower and install his version of techno-authoritarianism in its place. The United States cannot meet this challenge alone and must lead our freedom-loving allies and partners to craft creative solutions to our shared technological challenges. This bill is a good step towards that goal,” said Sen. Sasse.

“It’s critical for democracies around the world to collaborate in research and development as well as manufacturing of advanced technologies to compete against China,” said Sen. Rubio. “Too many nations fall prey to the trap of incentives associated with Chinese tech that only results in lost privacy, reduced autonomy, and greater dependence on Beijing.  The U.S. must lead likeminded countries in establishing and supporting alternatives that are safer and technologically more advanced.  I hope this bill will push the Administration to lead in this space.”    

“The Chinese Communist Party is working rapidly and strategically to dominate in technologies that will underpin our economic and national security, and to export its illiberal technology across the globe,” said Sen. Bennet. “America’s competitiveness and security require an international technology strategy that leads with our values and allies. This bipartisan approach will empower the United States and our democratic partners to compete with China and set the rules of the road for next generation technologies.”

Leadership and competitiveness in emerging and critical technologies will determine the political, economic, and military strength of countries in the 21st century. Currently, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is using every tool in its arsenal to achieve dominance in key technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, semiconductors and more. Its approach to technology includes heavily subsidizing Chinese companies, investing extensively in research and development, incentivizing foreign countries to adopt its technologies, leveraging international standard-setting bodies to advance its vision, imposing unfair restrictions on foreign companies, and accessing technologies through illicit means. 

Simply put, the U.S. cannot counter these practices or compete with the PRC and other authoritarian governments on its own. To compete against these technological advancements, the Democracy Technology Partnership Act would establish an interagency office at the U.S. Department of State to lead in the creation of a new partnership among the world’s tech-leading democracies. The partnership between the democratic countries would ensure that these technologies advance democratic institutions, norms, and values, contributing to global peace and prosperity.  

Specifically, the interagency office would be responsible for:

·         Creating a technology-based partnership of democratic countries to develop harmonized technology governance regimes and to fill gaps on specific technologies;

·         Identifying existing, and when needed, new multilateral mechanisms to advance the objectives of the Technology Partnership; 

·         Coordinating with such countries regarding shared technology strategies; and

·         Developing strategies to provide alternatives to countries who are at risk of acquiring technologies from authoritarian regimes. 

The criteria for participation in the global partnership – as laid out by the legislation – requires that the country be a democratic national government with a strong commitment to democratic values, have an economy with advanced technology sectors, and have a demonstrated record of interest or expressed interest in international cooperation and coordination with the U.S. on defense and intelligence issues. 

In addition, the Democracy Technology Partnership Act creates a $5 billion International Technology Partnership Fund to support joint research projects between government research agencies, universities, technology companies and other businesses from partner countries, as well as to make technology investments in third-country markets. The legislation also creates a Public-Private Board, called the International Technology Partnership Advisory Board, made up of individuals with demonstrated expertise in the fields of emerging technologies and international trade to provide advice and recommendations to the Technology Partnership Office and on the bill’s implementation. 

“I commend Senators Warner and Menendez for this bold new legislation, which will help ensure that democratic values and partnerships are at the center of America’s strategy to win the global technology competition. The new Technology Partnership they are proposing would be a powerful diplomatic tool to counter authoritarian influence. It would also promote new avenues of cooperation between democratic nations to secure a better future for us all,” said Madeline Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State.

“The Technology Partnership, as proposed by Senators Warner, Menendez, Cornyn, Young, Sasse, and Schumer, is a worthy initiative, rightly identifying the most important challenge facing the United States for the next decade.  The legislation wisely creates a multilateral mechanism for the United States to coordinate with like-minded, democratic countries to counter and compete with the People’s Republic of China.  As the PRC works to dominate critical emerging technologies, essential to U.S. military, political and economic strength, democracies must come together to coordinate technology policy that reflects democratic values,” said Stephen J. Hadley, former U.S. National Security Advisor.

“The Democracy Technology Partnership Act outlines an important vision and strategic plan for how the United States should collaborate with allies and friends on a technology strategy which promotes and protects our common interests.  Its placement at the State Department, with interagency representatives and a public-private board, ensures that the effort will be a key part of America’s global diplomatic strategy, tapping into the great talent available across the U.S. government and in the private sector.  This is an innovative approach to one of the toughest challenges facing the United States and our community of democracies,” said Ambassador Marc Grossman, Vice Chairman of the Cohen Group, former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.

“The United States’ leadership in technology and innovation is at risk, as the PRC works to surpass the US in technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and data science, quantum information systems, biotechnology, 5G, and semiconductor technologies. The United States needs a national strategy for innovation, and this legislation outlines an essential element in that larger strategy: a coalition of democratic countries to coordinate on defense of technologies, set standards, and develop common policies for emerging technologies,” said Admiral William H. McRaven, U.S. Navy (Retired).  

A copy of the bill section-by-section can be found here. A two-page summary can be found here. A copy of the bill text can be found here.

Sen. Warner, a former telecommunications executive, has been a leading voice on issues related to the national security challenges facing the United States as a result of China’s growing power and influence. Last week, Sen. Warner participated in a bipartisan meeting with President Biden on securing U.S. supply chains for critical and essential goods to help counter China’s efforts to expand its influence and economic power. Sen. Warner has also successfully pushed for the inclusion of his bipartisan Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act in the FY21 defense bill to encourage and support U.S. innovation in the race for 5G dominance.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released a declassified report on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi:

“For too long, the United States failed to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the brutal murder of journalist, dissident, and Virginia resident Jamal Khashoggi. I’m encouraged to see the new administration taking steps to rectify that by releasing this long-overdue congressionally mandated report into his killing.”

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WASHINGTON — Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Vice-Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) filed legislation (S. 640) to extend Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act from its current expiration of March 31, 2021 to September 30, 2021. The provision allows a critical lifeline for federal agencies to maintain contractors, who would otherwise be at risk for layoff or furlough due to the pandemic. Warner and Rubio also sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) requesting that Section 3610 be extended “as freestanding legislation, as we have introduced, or as a provision on the next appropriate legislative vehicle.”

A coalition of organizations wrote in support of Warner and Rubio's efforts to extend Section 3610, highlighting that “numerous organizations representing the breadth of the government industrial base, including manufacturers and service providers, from large companies to small businesses, have emphasized the importance of the 3610 authority and the need for an extension.” 

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Majority Leader Schumer and Minority Leader McConnell,

We write to ask that Section 3610 Federal Contractor Authority of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act be extended to September 30, 2021, as freestanding legislation, as we have introduced, or as a provision on the next appropriate legislative vehicle.

This authority was last extended in the omnibus appropriations act for fiscal year 2021 and is due to expire on March 31, 2021. We believe extending this authority given the prolongation of the global pandemic is critically important to the resilience of our national security industrial base. Section 3610 has proven to be an important means of providing necessary relief during the pandemic to critical Intelligence Community industry partners—and particularly to small businesses that provide highly specialized capabilities—to retain key national security capabilities.

We look forward to working with you on this important matter.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a statement following a meeting at the White House with President Biden and bipartisan members of the House and Senate to discuss securing U.S. supply chains for critical and essential goods:

“I applaud the Biden Administration for engaging lawmakers on a bipartisan basis on supply chain security, particularly as it relates to semiconductors. To counter China’s efforts to expand its influence and economic power, we have to make investments here at home, which is why I introduced bipartisan legislation, the CHIPS for America Act, to boost U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and research and create jobs.

“Maintaining U.S. competitiveness in semiconductor manufacturing is a national security issue as well as an economic one, because semiconductors are the critical driver of innovation and defense computing capabilities. Today, these chips power an unimaginable range of products big and small, expensive and cheap, high-tech and low-tech. Today’s Executive Order is a good first start but much more work remains to be done – and quickly – including fully funding a number of enacted bills related to promoting supply chain security, resiliency and greater American competitiveness in key foundation technologies like semiconductors and wireless infrastructure. I was encouraged that in today’s meeting, there was a bipartisan consensus that supply chain security must remain a priority, and I look forward to working with President Biden and my colleagues in the Senate on this issue.”

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) today joined U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), to reintroduce the Network Security Trade Act, legislation to ensure U.S. communications infrastructure security is a clear negotiating objective of our country’s trade policy.

“Promoting the security and integrity of global digital infrastructure should be among the most paramount digital trade objectives the U.S. pursues,” said Warner. “It is long past time to make this a key negotiating objective in order to promote a more long-term, multilateral strategy to safeguard the global telecommunications market from providers like Huawei that could pose a serious risk to digital infrastructure across the globe.”

“There is a lot of promise with new and advanced technologies like 5G, but the United States can only deliver on those promises if we maintain the security of communications networks, both at home and abroad,” said Thune. “This legislation would ensure that the security of the equipment and technology that create the global communications infrastructure is front and center in our trade negotiations, because you can’t have optimal free trade if the global digital infrastructure is compromised.”

“When it comes to national security, one of our nation’s top priorities must be protecting our communication systems that we all depend on every day,” said Stabenow. “This bill helps leverage our trade negotiating powers to make sure our telecommunication networks like 5G are safe and secure.”

“The transition to 5G represents a major opportunity for American businesses, but it also poses serious challenges for America’s national security,” said Fischer. “Many other countries have plans to deploy equipment made by China’s untrustworthy Huawei. This bipartisan legislation makes clear that our concerns about Beijing are serious, and that future trade negotiations must account for our national security.”

The Network Security Trade Act would amend the 2015 Trade Promotion Authority, which is in effect until July 1, 2021, to include a negotiating objective related to the security of communications networks. Today, one of the largest manufacturers of 5G equipment and telecommunications infrastructure is Huawei Technologies, which is supported by the Chinese Communist Party. While the bill does not name specific state-owned companies, it would direct the executive branch to ensure that the equipment and technology that are used to create the global communications infrastructure are not compromised. It would achieve that goal by addressing barriers to the security of communications networks and supply chains and unfair trade practices of state-owned or state-controlled communications equipment suppliers in new trade agreements. Confronting these issues, which this legislation requires, is critical as the United States considers formal trade talks with the United Kingdom and other allies.

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WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) released a joint statement after the Biden administration confirmed Anne Neuberger, the National Security Agency's cybersecurity director, will lead the administration’s response to the SolarWinds breach. Yesterday, Chairman Warner and Vice Chairman Rubio sent a letter to the Intelligence Community urging the Unified Coordination Group to name a leader in the United States’ response to the SolarWinds cyber breach that has affected numerous federal agencies and thousands of private sector entities.

“The federal government’s response to date to the SolarWinds breach has lacked the leadership and coordination warranted by a significant cyber event, so it is welcome news that the Biden administration has selected Anne Neuberger to lead the response. The Committee looks forward to getting regular briefings from Ms. Neuberger and working with her to ensure we fully confront and mitigate this incident as quickly as possible.”

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter to the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) Avril Haines, National Security Agency (NSA) Director General Paul Nakasone, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray, and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Acting Director Brandon Wales, urging the Unified Coordination Group to name a leader  in the United States’ response to the SolarWinds cyber breach that has affected numerous federal agencies and thousands of other private sector entities.

In the letter to the intelligence community, the Senators wrote, “The briefings we have received convey a disjointed and disorganized response to confronting the breach. Taking a federated rather than a unified approach means that critical tasks that are outside the central roles of your respective agencies are likely to fall through the cracks.  The threat our country still faces from this incident needs clear leadership to develop and guide a unified strategy for recovery, in particular a leader who has the authority to coordinate the response, set priorities, and direct resources to where they are needed.”

The text of the full letter is here and can be found below.

Dear Director Haines, General Nakasone, Director Wray, and Acting Director Wales:

We are writing to urge you to name and empower a clear leader in the United States’ response to the SolarWinds cyber breach that has affected numerous federal agencies, and thousands of other private sector entities.  The federal government’s response so far has lacked the leadership and coordination warranted by a significant cyber event, and we have little confidence that we are on the shortest path to recovery.

The briefings we have received convey a disjointed and disorganized response to confronting the breach. Taking a federated rather than a unified approach means that critical tasks that are outside the central roles of your respective agencies are likely to fall through the cracks.  The threat our country still faces from this incident needs clear leadership to develop and guide a unified strategy for recovery, in particular a leader who has the authority to coordinate the response, set priorities, and direct resources to where they are needed. 

The handling of this incident is too critical for us to continue operating the way we have been.  Presidential Policy Directive-41 was not meant to impede a joint response to significant cyber incidents and clearly gives the Unified Coordination Group the authority, with mutual agreement and consistent with applicable legal authorities, to realign operational control of respective agency assets to respond to such incidents.  We urge you to reach such an agreement and assign a clear leader to ensure we confront and mitigate this incident fully, and as quickly as possible.

 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced the Safeguarding Against Fraud, Exploitation, Threats, Extremism and Consumer Harms (SAFE TECH) Act to reform Section 230 and allow social media companies to be held accountable for enabling cyber-stalking, targeted harassment, and discrimination on their platforms.  

“When Section 230 was enacted in 1996, the Internet looked very different than it does today. A law meant to encourage service providers to develop tools and policies to support effective moderation has instead conferred sweeping immunity on online providers even when they do nothing to address foreseeable, obvious and repeated misuse of their products and services to cause harm,” said Sen. Warner, a former technology entrepreneur and the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “Section 230 has provided a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card to the largest platform companies even as their sites are used by scam artists, harassers and violent extremists to cause damage and injury. This bill doesn’t interfere with free speech – it’s about allowing these platforms to finally be held accountable for harmful, often criminal behavior enabled by their platforms to which they have turned a blind eye for too long.” 

“Section 230 was passed in 1996 to incentivize then-nascent internet companies to voluntarily police illegal and harmful content posted by their users. Now, twenty-five years later, the law allows some of the biggest companies in the world turn a blind eye while their platforms are used to violate civil and human rights, stalk and harass people, and defraud consumers—all without accountability,” Sen. Hirono said. “The SAFE TECH Act brings Section 230 into the modern age by creating targeted exceptions to the law’s broad immunity. Internet platforms must either address the serious harms they impose on society or face potential civil liability.”

“We need to be asking more from big tech companies, not less. How they operate has a real-life effect on the safety and civil rights of Americans and people around the world, as well as our democracy. Holding these platforms accountable for ads and content that can lead to real-world harm is critical, and this legislation will do just that,” said Sen. Klobuchar. 

The SAFE TECH Act would make clear that Section 230:

·       Doesn’t apply to ads or other paid content – ensuring that platforms cannot continue to profit as their services are used to target vulnerable consumers with ads enabling frauds and scams;

·       Doesn’t bar injunctive relief – allowing victims to seek court orders where misuse of a provider’s services is likely to cause irreparable harm; 

·       Doesn’t impair enforcement of civil rights laws – maintaining the vital and hard-fought protections from discrimination even when activities or services are mediated by internet platforms; 

·       Doesn’t interfere with laws that address stalking/cyber-stalking or harassment and intimidation on the basis of protected classes – ensuring that victims of abuse and targeted harassment can hold platforms accountable when they directly enable harmful activity;

·       Doesn’t bar wrongful death actions – allowing the family of a decedent to bring suit against platforms where they may have directly contributed to a loss of life;

·       Doesn’t bar suits under the Alien Tort Claims Act – potentially allowing victims of platform-enabled human rights violations abroad (like the survivors of the Rohingya genocide) to seek redress in U.S. courts against U.S.-based platforms.

These changes to Section 230 do not guarantee that platforms will be held liable in all, or even most, cases. Proposed changes do not subject platforms to strict liability; and the current legal standards for plaintiffs still present steep obstacles. Rather, these reforms ensure that victims have an opportunity to raise claims without Section 230 serving as a categorical bar to their efforts to seek legal redress for harms they suffer – even when directly enabled by a platform’s actions or design. 

Bill text is available here. A three-page summary is available here. Frequently asked questions about the bill are available here. A redline of Section 230 is available here.

“Social media platforms and the tech companies that run them must protect their users from the growing and dangerous combination of misinformation and discrimination. As we have repeatedly seen, these platforms are being used to violate the civil rights of Black users and other users of color by serving as virtually-unchecked homes for hateful content and in areas such as housing and employment discrimination through the targeting and limiting of who can see certain advertisements. Section 230 must be strengthened to ensure that these online communities are not safe harbors for the violations of civil rights laws. LDF supports Senator Warner and Senator Hirono’s bill as it addresses these critical concerns,” said Lisa Cylar Barrett, Director of Policy, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF)

“Tech companies must be held accountable for their roles in facilitating genocide, extremist violence and egregious civil rights abuses. We applaud Senators Hirono and Warner for their leadership in introducing a robust bill that focuses on supporting targets of civil and human rights abuses on social media while also addressing cyber-harassment and other crimes stemming from the spread of hate and disinformation. The sweeping legal protections enjoyed by tech platforms cannot continue,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of ADL (Anti-Defamation League).

“Platforms should not profit from targeting employment ads toward White users, or from targeting voter suppression ads toward Black users. Senator Warner and Senator Hirono’s comprehensive bill makes it clear that Section 230 does not give platforms a free pass to violate civil rights laws, while also preserving the power of platforms to remove harmful disinformation,” said Spencer Overton, President, Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

“I applaud the SAFE TECH Act introduced by Sens. Warner and Hirono which provides useful modifications to section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act to limit the potential negative impacts of commercial advertising interests while continuing to protect anti-harassment and civil and human rights interests of those who may be wrongfully harmed through wrongful online activity,”

Ramesh Srinivasan, Professor at the UCLA Department of Information Studies and Director of UC Digital Cultures Lab, said.

“Congress enacted 47 USC 230 in the mid-1990s to support online innovation and free speech but the way in which courts have very generously read Section 230 have meant there is no legal mechanism that has done more to insulate intermediaries from legal accountability for distributing, amplifying, and carefully delivering unlawful content and facilitating dangerous antisocial connections. Racist, misogynist, and violent antidemocratic forces coalesce online because intermediaries rarely have to account for their social impacts. Senator Warner and Senator Hirono’s proposed changes create a new and necessary incentive for such companies to be far more mindful of the social impacts of their services in areas of law that are of vital importance to the health of the networked information environment. It does this while not abandoning the protection for intermediaries' distribution of otherwise lawful content,” said Olivier Sylvain, Professor at Fordham Law School and Director of the McGannon Center for Communications Research.

“We applaud Senator Warner and Senator Hirono’s important effort to reform Section 230 and thus bring greater accountability to the tech sector. Warner’s proposed reforms are crucial to protecting civil rights and making the web safer for those who have been negatively impacted by much that happens there, both online and off.  We thank Senator Warner and Senator Hirono for tackling this critically important issue,” Wendy Via, Cofounder, Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, said.

“The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative welcomes this effort to protect civil rights in the digital age and to hold online intermediaries accountable for their role in the silencing and exploitation of vulnerable communities. This bill offers urgently needed provisions to limit and correct the overzealous interpretation of Section 230 that has granted a multibillion dollar industry immunity and impunity for profiting from irreparable injury,” said Mary Anne Franks, President, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and Danielle K. Citron, Vice President, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative.

“For too long, companies like Facebook and YouTube have undermined the rights and safety of Muslims and communities of color in the U.S. and around the world. We have urged them to take responsibility for the targeted hate and violence, including genocide, facilitated by their platforms but these companies have refused to act,” said Madihha Ahussain, Muslim Advocates Special Counsel for Anti-Muslim Bigotry. “We appreciate Senators Warner and Hirono for introducing the SAFE TECH Act, which includes essential adjustments to Section 230 and will finally hold these companies accountable for violating people’s rights.”

“The SAFE TECH Act is an important step forward for platform accountability and for the protection of privacy online. Providing an opportunity for victims of harassment, privacy invasions, and other violations to remove unlawful content is critical to stopping its spread and limiting harm,” said Caitriona Fitzgerald, Interim Associate Director and Policy Director, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

“The SAFE TECH Act is the Section 230 reform America needs now. Over-expansive readings of Section 230 have encouraged reckless and negligent shirking by platforms of basic duties toward their users. Few if any of the drafters of Section 230 could have imagined that it would be opportunistically seized on to deregulate online arms sales, protect sellers of defective merchandise, permit genocidaires to organize online with impunity, or allow dating sites to ignore campaigns of harassment and worse against their users. The SAFE TECH Act reins in the cyberlibertarian ethos of Section 230 imperialism, permitting courts to carefully weigh and assess evidence in cases where impunity is now preemptively assumed,” Frank Pasquale, Author of The Black Box Society and Professor at Brooklyn Law School, said.

“For far too long online platforms have placed profit over accountability and decency, and allowed misinformation, algorithmic discrimination, and online hate to be weaponized. When the Communications Decency Act was passed in 1996, no one imagined it would be used to shield the most valuable companies in the world from basic civil rights compliance,” said David Brody, Counsel and Senior Fellow for Privacy and Technology, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “This bill would make irresponsible big tech companies accountable for the digital pollution they knowingly and willfully produce, while continuing to protect free speech online. Black Americans and other communities of color are frequent targets of online hate, threats and discrimination, and many of these online behaviors would not be tolerated if they occurred in a brick-and-mortar business. It is time that big tech stop treating our communities of color like second-class citizens, and give them the protection they deserve.”

“It is unacceptable that Big Tech enjoys near total legal immunity from the harm that their platforms expose to children and families. Tech companies should not be able to hide behind Section 230 to avoid abiding by civil rights laws, court injunctions, and other protections for families and the most vulnerable in society. Reforms proposed by Sens. Warner and Hirono begin to change that. It is time to hold these companies accountable for the harms their platforms have unleashed on society,” said James P. Steyer, CEO and Founder, Common Sense.

“The deadly insurrection at the Capitol made clear that lawmakers must take immediate action to ensure multi-billion-dollar social media companies, whose business models incentivize the unchecked spread of hate-fueled misinformation and violent clickbait conspiracies, can no longer abuse Section 230’s broad protections to evade civil rights laws,” said Arisha Hatch, Color Of Change Vice President and Chief of Campaigns. “The SAFE TECH Act from Sen. Warner and Sen. Hirono is critical. The proposed reform would not only prevent power-hungry social media companies from leveraging Section 230 to turn a blind eye to civil rights violations on their platforms, but it would also incentivize them to take down dangerous paid and organic content — and establish better protections against real world harms like cyberstalking, which disproportionately impacts Black women. We strongly encourage members of Congress to support this legislation, which represents a significant step towards finally holding Big Tech accountable for their years-long role in enabling civil rights violations against Black communities.”

“After 2020 no-one is asking if online misinformation creates real-world harms - whether it's COVID and anti-vaxx misinformation, election-related lies or hate, it is now clear that action is needed to deal with unregulated digital platforms. Whereas users can freely spread hate and misinformation, platforms profit from traffic regardless of whether it is productive or damaging, the costs are borne by the public and society at large. This timely bill forensically delineates the harms and ensures perpetrators and enablers pay a price for the harms they create. In doing so, it reflects our desire for richer communication technologies, which enhance our right to speak and be heard, and that also respect our fundamental rights to life and safety,” said Imran Ahmed, CEO, Center for Countering Digital Hate. 

“Our lives are at stake because hate and white supremacy is flourishing online. On January 6th we saw the results of what continuous disinformation and hate online can do with the insurection and domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol, where five lives were lost,” said Brenda Victoria Castillo, President & CEO, National Hispanic Media Coalition. “It is time to hold online platforms accountable for their role in the radicalization and spread of extremist ideologies in our country. NHMC is proud to support Senator Warner's limited reform of Section 230, and applauds his efforts to safeguard our democracy and the Latinx community.”

“Senator Mark Warner is a leader in ensuring that technology  supports democracy even as it advances innovation. His and Senator Hirono’s new Section 230 reform bill now removes  obstacles to enforcement against discrimination, cyber-stalking, and targeted harassment in the online world. The events of Jan 6 demonstrated that what happens online isn’t just a game. Online conspiracy theories, discrimination, and harassment are a public danger. The Warner-Hirono bill would go a long way toward addressing these dangers, and incentivizing platforms to move past the current, ineffective whack-a-mole approach to these important online harms,” said Karen Kornbluh, Director of the Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative at the German Marshall Fund of the US and Former US Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following after a Moscow judge sentenced Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to 3.5 years in prison:  

“The cruel absurdity of Putin’s government is encapsulated by the sentencing of Alexei Navalny to prison for failing to check in with his parole officer while he was literally lying in a coma after being poisoned by Putin’s FSB. Knowing his life was in danger, Navalny nonetheless courageously returned to his home country and inspired tens of thousands of ordinary Russians to publicly demand an end to government corruption. The Russian authorities must immediately end their violent crackdown and release Alexei Navalny along with the thousands of peaceful protesters who have been detained by the government simply because they embarrassed Vladimir Putin. The United States Congress and the Biden administration can and will hold Russian officials accountable for their abuses.”

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WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner joined Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-13), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09) and Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-07), in a bipartisan, bicameral reintroduction of the Global Health, Empowerment, and Rights (HER) Act in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The legislation would permanently repeal the harmful Global Gag Rule. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) also joined Shaheen to lead the introduction of the legislation in the Senate, which has 46 total cosponsors. The House companion legislation has 173 cosponsors.  

The Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, is an executive order that bans federal funds for foreign non-governmental organizations that use non-U.S. funds to provide abortion services or provide information about abortion as part of comprehensive family planning services. This forces clinics to choose between providing limited reproductive health services while accepting U.S. foreign aid or providing inclusive family planning and reproductive health care with a limited budget. The ill-conceived policy was rescinded by the Obama administration, only to be reinstated and expanded under the Trump administration. President Trump expanded the policy numerous times during his term in office to unprecedented levels, all of which Senator Shaheen vehemently opposed. Yesterday, President Biden rescinded the policy. 

“The Global Gag Rule compromised women’s health and well-being in some of our most vulnerable communities around the world. The impact of the last administration’s actions to implement and significantly expand this policy will take years to repair,” said Senator Shaheen. “I’m very pleased by President Biden’s decision to rescind this policy and I’m eager to work with his administration to build on that effort in Congress, starting with legislation I’ve introduced – the Global HER Act. The Global HER Act is a bipartisan bill to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule, ensuring that women’s access to important health services are not dependent on the person in the White House. And a permanent repeal is needed now more than ever. The Trump administration’s unprecedented and exponential expansion of the Global Gag Rule cannot be repeated. Frontline organizations need certainty on funding and services so they can best serve their patients. The life and health of a mother on the other side of the world shouldn’t be at the whim of a President’s partisan politics. It’s time to end the Global Gag Rule.”  

“The Global Gag rule leaves behind a chilling effect every time the United States changes administrations, undercutting the longstanding goals of the policy,” said Congresswoman Lee. “This harmful policy interferes with doctor-patient relationships by restricting crucial information and health services for vulnerable communities around the world. We can no longer undermine the sustainability of global health programs and our pace of progress, so I’m proud to be co-leading this effort with my colleagues. I’m looking forward to advancing the Global HER Act in the House and Senate with an administration that understands the importance of this issue." 

“I want to applaud President Biden for taking the important step of issuing an Executive Order to repeal the Global Gag rule, saving lives and protecting the health of women around the world,” said Congresswoman Schakowsky. “Access to comprehensive reproductive health services and information will not only reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, but also prevent injuries and death that result from unsafe abortions. Once again, the United States, the single largest funder of global health, is stepping up to prevent negative maternal health outcomes. I am proud to co-lead the Global HER Act to permanently repeal this harmful policy and ensure that future Administrations don’t bring it back.”

“I’m grateful President Biden rescinded the Global Gag Rule, which jeopardizes life-saving global health programs and makes it even harder for women and families in vulnerable populations to access critical reproductive health care. This policy also hinders our ability to fight against epidemics like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The Trump Administration shamefully expanded this policy, leading to disastrous results for women and families across the world at a time when the global community was already reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congressman Bera. “Congress must act to ensure no future Administration can implement this harmful policy. I’m proud to join my colleagues in the House and Senate in reintroducing the Global HER Act to permanently end the Global Gag Rule and its attack on reproductive rights.” 

“The Global HER Act would allow U.S. global health assistance funding for foreign non-governmental organizations, using their own funds, to provide the full scope of family planning services to women in developing countries,” said Senator Collins. “The global gag rule forces health care organizations to make a Hobson’s choice:  either give up desperately needed funds for family planning and a broad array of other important health care services, or renege on their responsibility to provide patients with full and accurate medical information.  I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure that U.S. investments in global health are effective and are administered efficiently.”

“In 2017, President Trump issued a presidential memorandum that restored the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule. The expansion of this policy that occurred over the last four years had a detrimental impact on clinical providers, community health workers and public health partners around the world providing women and girls with essential services,” said Senator Murkowski.  “I’m proud to help reintroduce bipartisan, bicameral legislation which would permanently repeal that rule. By doing so, we remove eligibility restrictions that could unintentionally create barriers to critical, often life-saving services and help ensure women around the world have access to more comprehensive, quality healthcare.” 

The Global HER Act would: 

  • Ensure that eligible foreign NGOs can continue to operate U.S.-supported health programs abroad, particularly those that provide legal health services to women -- including counseling, referral, and legal abortion services -- with their own, non-U.S. funds; 
  • Guarantee that foreign NGOs will not be forced to sacrifice their right to free speech in order to participate in U.S.-supported programs abroad; and
  • Help expand access to health programs for women around the world to improve health and development outcomes for entire families, communities and developing countries.  

A member of both the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, Senator Shaheen has been a fierce advocate for women and girls around the globe, including advocating on behalf of family planning and women’s global health, spearheading efforts to end gender-based violence, authoring legislation to address barriers that girls around the world face in accessing education and securing women leadership roles in conflict resolution and peace negotiations

In addition to Sen. Warner, the Global HER Act is cosponsored by Senators Collins (R-ME), Murkowski (R-AK), Menendez (D-NJ), Baldwin (D-WI), Bennet (D-CO), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Casey (D-PA), Coons (D-DE), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Duckworth (D-IL), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Hassan (D-NH), Hirono (D-HI), Kaine (D-VA), Kelly (D-AZ), King (I-ME), Klobuchar (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), Markey (D-MA), Merkley (D-OR), Murphy (D-CT), Murray (D-WA), Ossoff (D-GA), Peters (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Rosen (D-NV), Sanders (I-VT), Schatz (D-HI), Schumer (D-NY), Sinema (D-AZ), Smith (D-MN), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warnock (D-GA), Warren (D-MA), Whitehouse (D-RI) and Wyden (D-OR).

The Global HER Act is endorsed by 132 organizations representing global health, women’s reproductive rights, women’s equality, civil rights and other relevant advocacy constituencies. The full list is available here 

Text of the Global HER Act can be read here

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement after the Senate confirmed Avril Haines as Director of National Intelligence:

“Given the critical importance of the role of the Director of National Intelligence to our country’s security, it is appropriate that Avril Haines has now become the first member of the new administration to be confirmed by the Senate in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote. After being deliberately undermined for four years, the Intelligence Community deserves a strong, Senate-confirmed leader to lead and reinvigorate it. I am confident Ms. Haines will serve capably and honorably in the role and I look forward to working with her.”

Prior to the vote, Sen. Warner spoke on the floor, urging senators to support Ms. Haines’ nomination. Broadcast-quality video and audio of that speech is available for download here 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement:

“In today’s open and classified sessions, Ms. Haines demonstrated professionalism, commitment to the men and women of the Intelligence Community, and a keen grasp of the challenges facing our national security. The Intelligence Community needs a strong, Senate-confirmed leader and Ms. Haines will be that leader. The Committee will work to schedule a vote on her nomination as soon as possible, and I urge the Senate to confirm her without any unnecessary delay.”

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, released a statement regarding the nomination of Janet Yellen to be Secretary of the Treasury. Due to a conflict with the confirmation hearing for the Director of National Intelligence-designate in the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Warner was unable to attend the nomination hearing for Yellen earlier today in the Finance Committee.  

“Dr. Yellen is exactly the type of leader we need at the Treasury to see our economy through these challenging times.  Her deep understanding of our economy and financial markets will allow her to hit the ground running as we work to rebuild and recover from COVID-19,” said Sen. Warner. “She should be swiftly confirmed.”

“I look forward to working with Secretary Yellen to advance our shared priorities, including expanding investments into minority and underserved communities, reforming our tax code, preparing American workers to compete in a 21st century economy, and implementing key reforms to our anti-money laundering and beneficial ownership laws, among other urgent challenges facing our fragile economy,” Sen. Warner added.

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Washington, D.C. — Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) requested information from Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe regarding how the Intelligence Community is preparing for the inauguration on January 20, 2021.

The full text of the letter is below.

 

Dear Director Ratcliffe:

In light of the recent violence at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, we request that you provide the Committee with a detailed description of how the Intelligence Community (IC) is supporting relevant customers in the Congress, Executive Branch, and state and local law enforcement in preparation for the inauguration on January 20, 2021. 

Specifically:

  • Please update the Committee on all intelligence related to efforts by foreign actors to disrupt the inauguration. Please describe the process by which this reporting will be shared with federal, state, and local stakeholders.

  • What products and briefings do you intend to issue to provide indications and warning of any potential unrest, whether foreign or domestic in origin, before and during the inauguration?

  • To what extent is the IC working with and/or supporting law enforcement agencies in tracking any threats to the inauguration, and what is the IC’s current assessment of such threats?

  • What scenario planning are you conducting in advance of inauguration day?

  • What capabilities do the Intelligence Community plan on deploying during inauguration day? 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter. 

Sincerely, 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement on President-elect Joe Biden’s selection of Bill Burns as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA): 

“For decades, Bill has faithfully served our nation with honor and dignity. As a career diplomat under Democratic and Republican presidents, he has established himself as a smart and tested public servant who is free from political interference. Now more than ever, our intelligence and defense communities deserve leaders who will notpoliticize our national security institutions.”

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), incoming Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today released the following statement after the Trump Administration announced new sanctions against seven individuals and four entities involved in a Russia-linked foreign influence network:

“Even as our attention turns to the real-world impacts of domestic-led disinformation campaigns, we cannot forget that our foreign adversaries have relied upon many of the same tactics. Moreover, much of the false information spread about President-elect Biden during and since the campaign had its roots in the entities being sanctioned today, as we saw Russian entities seed or amplify dangerous narratives that gained significant traction in far-right media. We must redouble efforts to build public confidence in our democratic process and work to develop reforms that make our information ecosystem more resilient to disinformation and wider exploitation efforts.”

Sen. Warner, as Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, helped lead the only congressional committee to conduct a successful bipartisan investigation into Russia’s unprecedented interference in the 2016 presidential election. 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), former telecommunications entrepreneur and incoming Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, today urged mobile carriers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon and social media companies Apple, Facebook, Gab, Google, Parler, Signal, Telegram, and Twitter to immediately preserve content and associated meta-data connected to Wednesday’s insurrectionist attack on the United States Capitol. 

In all eleven letters to the companies’ CEOs, Sen. Warner emphasized how the rioters took the time to document the event “later posting them to their social media accounts or sharing them via text or mobile messaging platforms to celebrate their disdain for our democratic process.”

“The United States Capitol is now a crime scene,” wrote Sen. Warner in his letters to AT&TT-MobileVerizonAppleFacebookGabGoogleParlerSignalTelegram, and Twitter. “The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are currently investigating the events of that day, and trying to piece together what happened and the perpetrators involved. The prospect of litigation on behalf of the victims of the mayhem also is highly likely. Messaging data to and from your subscribers that may have participated in, or assisted, those engaged in this insurrection – and associated subscriber information – are critical evidence in helping to bring these rioters to justice.”

 

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