Rep. Huffman Introduces Protecting Access to Classified Information in Elections Act
Washington, D.C.- Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Hank Johnson (D-GA) introduced the Protecting Access to Classified Information in Elections Act, new legislation to modernize and standardize the way candidates for President and Vice President are granted access to national security secrets.
Under longstanding practice, sitting Presidents have authorized candidates to receive classified briefings, as a way to ensure that no matter which candidate wins, he or she takes the oath of office with an understanding of the global and national security responsibilities of the office. However, those candidates have not been required to seek security clearances or undergo a background investigation. The Protecting Access to Classified Information in Elections Act would authorize and encourage candidates to be thoroughly vetted by a federal background investigation, and allow the candidate to publicize the fact that they have passed the vetting process.
“This week’s Manchurian moment begs the question: how did a presidential candidate with such potentially disqualifying baggage slide through the process without a way for voters to know about it?” said Rep. Huffman. “Going forward, there is a clear public interest in ensuring that presidential candidates are not deeply compromised or vulnerable to blackmail. My Protecting Access to Classified Information in Elections Act would help protect the national security of our country by putting a process in place to encourage presidential candidates to undergo a national security clearance investigation well before the election.”
Rep. Huffman spoke on the need for his new legislation on the House floor. Watch the full clip here.
“As the historic debacle in Helsinki showed us this week, we as a nation can no longer stand idly by as our president chooses his own self-interest over the common good and national security of the American people,” said Rep. Johnson. “Not only will this common sense bill update and modernize our security clearance standards, but help protect America from unfriendly foreign forces seeking to undermine our democracy.”
The security clearance vetting process includes reviews of foreign investments and other business ties, bankruptcies, financial problems, legal judgments, and other potential liabilities and vulnerabilities to blackmail. In addition to authorizing a candidate for President or Vice President to seek a security clearance and undergo a background investigation, the bill also gives candidates who have been granted a security clearance the option of publicly disclosing this fact through a website maintained by the Director of National Intelligence.