On Thursday, June 13, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia requested a unanimous consent (UC) on the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections (or FIRE) Act, which would force campaigns to notify federal authorities about any attempts by foreign nationals to influence an election. If any senator objects, as Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee did, the request is rejected.
Warner said, “Mr. President I ask unanimous unanimous consent that the Rules Committee be discharged from further consideration of S1562 and the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration and that the Warner substitute at the desk be agreed to, that the bill as amended be considered read a third time and passed the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.”
Acting Senate President Mitt Romney, (R-Utah) said, “The senator from Tennessee. Is there objection?” Sen. Blackburn said, “Reserving the right to object. And I will object.”
Responding to the acting Senate president, Warner expressed disappointment about the rejection. Blackburn explained her objection to the FIRE Act and advocated it receive more bipartisan consideration.
Warner, said “Mr. President I am deeply disappointed that the majority has rejected this request before I can even lay out why I think it’s needed. My request was for me to take up and pass the Fire Act S1562 as amended this legislation. Pretty simple even for this body, would require any presidential campaign that receives offers of assistance from an agent of a foreign government, has an obligation to report that offer of assistance to law enforcement, specifically the FBI.”
Blackburn said, “These reporting requirements are over broad. Presidential campaigns would have to worry about disclosure at a variety of levels. So many different levels. The UC that was presented as over broad. And this is something that should be done in a thoughtful way. It should be done in a bipartisan way.”
Earlier this week President Trump generated media attention for his response to two questions from ABC News. First, they asked, “Would his 2020 campaign accept information offered by foreign countries like Russia and China on his political opponents or if his campaign would instead call the FBI?”
To which the President replied, “I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. There’s nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, (saying) ‘We have information on your opponent’, oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”
Then the second question “You want that kind of interference in our elections?” To which the president replied, “It’s not an interference. They have information. I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI if I thought there was something wrong.”
Includes reporting from ABC News and the Associated Press