February 28, 2018

Menendez Calls for Swift Action on Countering Kremlin Propaganda With Congressionally Authorized Funds

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued the following statement after the Departments of State and Defense reached an agreement to transfer $40M to the State Department’s Global Engagement Center to fight foreign government-sponsored propaganda.

“It is well past time that the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) gets the resources Congress intended for it to effectively fight Kremlin-sponsored disinformation and other foreign propaganda operations.  The Global Engagement Center, appropriately housed in the Department of State, is the body charged with coordinating the U.S. government’s efforts to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation campaigns, and must have the resources it needs to fulfil its mission.  In December 2016, Congress authorized the Department of Defense to transfer up to $120 million to the GEC over two fiscal years. After waiting more than a year, the Department just transferred $40 million out of the $60 million designated for this fiscal year. I expect the Department to transfer the rest of the funds as soon as possible and put the Administration on notice that Congress will not tolerate these types of delays next year.  

“With Senior U.S. officials reconfirming in recent days that the Russian government remains an acute threat to democratic processes in the U.S. and other countries around the world, the stakes are simply too high to get this wrong or to continue kicking the can down the road. The delays by the Secretary of State in initiating, and the Department of Defense in completing, the transfer of these funds have been simply unacceptable and only served to cede even more ground to Vladimir Putin over the past year.  The GEC needs to play catch up quickly and should immediately put these funds to use for activities that can blunt the effects of Russian government disinformation and boost societal resilience to it, including by promoting media literacy and sources of independent, fact-based information.  Furthermore, President Trump needs to stop equivocating about the threats the Kremlin poses to democracies around the world, and direct a whole-of-government, comprehensive strategy to remain dogged in our efforts to counter these threats, of which the GEC is only one key component.”  


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