The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee recommended Tuesday that Congress "urgently pass" legislation to bolster federal help to states that are trying to prevent their election systems from being hacked as they were in 2016.
New legislation is included in the committee's initial draft of recommendations to prevent more hacking of U.S. elections. The recommendations are included in the committee's initial findings after spending more than a year investigating Russian attempts to target U.S. voting systems during the 2016 campaign.
The recommendations also call on the Department of Homeland Security to develop channels of communication between federal, state and local officials, and that Washington "clearly communicate" that attacks on elections are hostile and appropriate agencies should "respond accordingly."
The Department of Homeland Security has said Russian agents targeted the election systems in 21 states before the November 2016 election and separately engaged in a social media campaign that was designed to create confusion and fuel social discord. U.S. intelligence agencies have said, however, there is no evidence the 2016 hacks affected election results, although they have concluded that Russia meddled in the campaign to help Republican U.S. President Donald Trump get elected. Moscow has repeatedly denied interfering in the campaign and Trump insists there was no collusion.
Intelligence officials have repeatedly warned they expect Russia or others to attempt to interfere in the November 2018 midterm elections, when control of Congress is at stake.
"We are here to express concerns but also confidence in our state and local governments," said Senator Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has been conducting what is widely viewed as the least partisan out of the three primary congressional probes of Russia's meddling in 2016.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller also is investigating Russia's activities in 2016, as well as looking into the possibility of collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice by Trump associates.