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S. 3317: Democracy in the 21st Century Act


The text of the bill below is as of Dec 6, 2021 (Introduced).


II

117th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 3317

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

December 6, 2021

(for himself and Mr. Graham) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations

A BILL

To strengthen United States national security through the defense of democracy abroad and to address contemporary threats to democracy around the world, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Democracy in the 21st Century Act.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Definitions.

Sec. 3. Program prioritization and democracy strategy.

Sec. 4. Authorities and limitation.

Sec. 5. Establishment of certain funds.

Sec. 6. Roles and responsibilities.

Sec. 7. Coordinators for democracy programs.

Sec. 8. Authorization of appropriations.

2.

Definitions

In this Act:

(1)

Appropriate congressional committees

The term appropriate congressional committees means—

(A)

the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate;

(B)

the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate;

(C)

the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives; and

(D)

the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives.

(2)

Democracy programs

For purposes of funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151 et seq.), or appropriated under any Act making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs, the term democracy programs means programs that—

(A)

support democratic governance consistent with section 133(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2152c(b)), and—

(i)

transparent, accountable, and democratic governance (including combating corruption);

(ii)

credible and competitive elections;

(iii)

freedom of expression (including countering disinformation and misinformation), association, assembly, and religion;

(iv)

human rights and labor rights;

(v)

independent media;

(vi)

internet freedom and digital rights and responsibilities; and

(vii)

the rule of law; or

(B)

otherwise strengthen the capacity of democratic political parties, nongovernmental organizations and institutions, and citizens to support the development of democratic states and institutions that are responsive and accountable to citizens.

(3)

NED

The term NED means the National Endowment for Democracy.

(4)

Relevant Federal agencies

The term relevant Federal agencies means—

(A)

the Department of State;

(B)

the United States Agency for International Development; and

(C)

other Federal agencies that the President determines are relevant for purposes of this Act.

(5)

USAID

The term USAID means the United States Agency for International Development.

3.

Program prioritization and democracy strategy

(a)

Findings

Congress makes the following findings:

(1)

Democracy has weakened around the world for at least 15 consecutive years. In some places, authoritarian leaders have deliberately chipped away at the pillars of democracy; in others, rampant partisanship and disinformation have pitted democratic electorates against themselves. In many places, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Federation of Russia, and other states have found ways to encourage or amplify these trends, including through the strategic use of corruption.

(2)

The erosion of global democracy fundamentally undermines the national security of the United States. Democracies consistently prove to be the most reliable geopolitical allies and trading partners for the United States. Democracies by any reasonable measure outperform non-democracies in delivering prosperity and good governance, and in preventing instability and violent extremism. The erosion of democracy in foreign countries threatens the United States at home, because the threats democracy faces around the world (including disinformation, hyperpolarization, election meddling, weaponized corruption, digital repression, and attacks on independent media) respect no national boundary. If left unaddressed overseas, this democratic erosion will threaten American democracy at home.

(3)

More generally, the competition between democracies and autocracies has again become an animating feature of global politics, with authoritarian powers (often with support from the PRC or Russia) using their resources, influence, and technology to undermine and interfere in democratic processes and co-opt public officials.

(4)

The current approach of the United States Government to supporting global democracy must be updated to meet today’s challenges. The survival of the democratic project will always depend on free and fair elections, strong democratic institutions, the rule of law, and an empowered civil society. The United States Government must also establish new authorities and resources to address contemporary threats to democracy, including malign foreign interference, transnational corruption, and digital authoritarianism.

(b)

Program prioritization

The United States Government should prioritize democracy programs that—

(1)

advance democracy worldwide, including during a country’s transition to democracy, a consolidation of democracy following such a transition, and democratic backsliding in a country;

(2)

support democracy and democratic activists in closed and repressive societies, including defending their human rights;

(3)

counter the malign influence of the PRC, the Federation of Russia, and other authoritarian governments;

(4)

counter corruption and kleptocracy, including by enhancing transparent, accountable, and responsive governance;

(5)

promote and protect independent media, civil society activists, writers, artists, and intellectuals;

(6)

counter misinformation and disinformation of all kinds, but especially in the digital domain;

(7)

counter authoritarian abuse of technology, and prevent manipulation—especially through digital means—of elections, electoral data, and critical infrastructure;

(8)

combat digital authoritarianism, including the use of the internet and other digital technologies to undermine human rights;

(9)

promote internet freedom and the use of technology that furthers democracy and human rights;

(10)

counter transnational repression and the extra-territorial extension of repressive measures, as well as the increasing use of arbitrary detention;

(11)

respond rapidly to democratic openings or backsliding;

(12)

promote civic education, voter education, and enhanced citizen participation in democratic processes;

(13)

seek to ensure the integrity of elections abroad; and

(14)

establish and promote democracy partnerships to maximize support to a country where a democratic opening is underway or the respective government is a genuine partner for democratic reform.

(c)

Strategy

Not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to Congress a comprehensive strategy to promote democracy abroad. The strategy shall encompass a whole of government approach to such efforts, and include detailed information on funding, goals and objectives, and oversight.

4.

Authorities and limitation

(a)

Availability

Funds that are authorized to be appropriated pursuant to the National Endowment for Democracy Act (22 U.S.C. 4412) or appropriated under any Act making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs for the National Endowment for Democracy may be made available notwithstanding any other provision of law and any regulation.

(b)

Beneficiaries

Funds that are made available by this Act for the NED are made available pursuant to the authority of the National Endowment for Democracy Act (title V of Public Law 98–164), including all decisions regarding the selection of beneficiaries.

(c)

Restrictions on foreign government interference

(1)

Prior approval

With respect to the provision of assistance for democracy programs by relevant Federal agencies, the organizations implementing such assistance, the specific nature of that assistance, and the participants in such programs shall not be subject to the prior approval by the government of any foreign country.

(2)

Disclosure of implementing partner information

If the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, determines that the government of a country is undemocratic or has engaged in gross violations of human rights, any new bilateral agreement governing the terms and conditions under which assistance is provided to such a country shall not require the disclosure of the names of implementing partners of democracy programs, and the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development shall expeditiously seek to negotiate amendments to existing bilateral agreements, as necessary, to conform to this requirement.

(3)

Reporting requirement

The Secretary of State, in coordination with the USAID Administrator, shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees, not later than January 31, 2022, and annually thereafter until September 30, 2026, detailing steps taken by the Department of State and USAID to comply with the requirements of this subsection.

(d)

Information sharing

The Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the Department of State and the Assistant Administrator for Development, Democracy, and Innovation of USAID shall regularly inform the NED of democracy programs that are planned and supported by such agencies, and the NED President shall regularly inform such Secretary and Administrator of programs that are planned and supported by the NED, consistent with the requirements of section 505 of the National Endowment for Democracy Act (22 U.S.C. 4414).

(e)

Digital security

Democracy programs supported by funds authorized to be appropriated pursuant to section 8 should include a component on digital security to enhance the security and safety of implementers and beneficiaries, including, as appropriate, assistance for civil society organizations to counter government surveillance, censorship, and repression by digital means.

5.

Establishment of certain funds

(a)

Fund To Defend Democracy Globally

(1)

Establishment

The Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, following consultation with the appropriate congressional committees, may each establish a Fund to Defend Democracy Globally, which may accept contributions from other international donors and the private sector. The Secretary and the Administrator shall regularly coordinate programs and activities supported by each respective Fund.

(2)

Purpose

The purpose of such Funds is to support programs that—

(A)

strengthen and enhance the Department of State and USAID’s ability to respond quickly and flexibly to democratic openings and backsliding;

(B)

assist fledgling or struggling democracies deliver services and meet expectations for their populations through a full range of development assistance from the United States and other international donors, in consultation and coordination with the governments of such democracies, in order to further reforms and strategies identified by such governments through consultation with respective civil societies;

(C)

support, in cooperation with other international donors and in consultation with nongovernmental organizations, independent and public interest media worldwide to help such media resist the overlapping challenges of authoritarian encroachment, threats to their financial viability, and litigation and regulatory environments meant to undercut their ability to operate;

(D)

center democratic values and human rights in current and emerging technologies, and counter efforts by authoritarian governments to surveil, censor, or otherwise repress populations by digital means, including through programs that—

(i)

counter disinformation;

(ii)

establish an initiative to be housed at USAID to help countries around the world implement governing regulations for the procurement and use of technology consistent with democratic and human rights norms and standards;

(iii)

provide digital public goods to reduce the appeal of authoritarian-leaning technologies to cash-strapped countries;

(iv)

provide education on digital literacy to key populations; and

(v)

support the ongoing prioritization of democratic values in technological development in the years to come; and

(E)

establish an international coalition of governmental and nongovernmental actors dedicated to preserving election integrity by providing funds to deter or combat external influence in elections abroad, including cyber intrusion, disinformation, and other threats, and assist elections to meet coalition-defined standards of electoral integrity.

(3)

Authorization of appropriations

Of the funds authorized to be appropriated pursuant to section 8, not less than $20,000,000, to remain available until expended, should be made available for each Fund established under this subsection.

(b)

Fund To combat corruption and kleptocracy

(1)

Establishment

The USAID Administrator, following consultation with the appropriate congressional committees, may establish a Fund to Combat Corruption and Kleptocracy abroad.

(2)

Contributions

The Fund may accept contributions from other international donors and the private sector, and provide contributions to multilateral organizations.

(3)

Purposes

The purposes of the Fund are to support efforts by foreign governments, civil society, and the private sector to combat corruption and kleptocracy abroad, including through efforts that—

(A)

enhance government transparency, accountability, and responsiveness across development sectors;

(B)

improve detection and exposure of corruption crimes, including those that cross borders;

(C)

expand investigations and prosecutions of corrupt acts and hold corrupt actors accountable;

(D)

strengthen norms and standards at the local, national, regional, and international levels; and

(E)

augment cooperation with the private sector and key industries to root out corruption that harms competitiveness, economic growth, and development and taints critical supply chains.

(4)

Authorization of appropriations

Of the funds authorized to be appropriated pursuant to section 8, not less than $20,000,000, to remain available until expended, should be made available for the Fund.

(c)

Democracy Research and Development Fund

(1)

Establishment

The Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, following consultation with the appropriate congressional committees, may establish a Democracy Research and Development Fund.

(2)

Contributions

The Fund may accept contributions from other international donors and the private sector, and provide contributions to multilateral organizations.

(3)

Purposes

The purposes of the Fund are to—

(A)

support research and development by the Department of State, USAID, and NED on policies, programs, and technologies relating to democracy promotion abroad;

(B)

drive innovation within those entities regarding the response to democratic backsliding; and

(C)

incentivize collaboration among government, nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector with the objective of identifying and mitigating the threats to global democracy.

(4)

Reports from the Coordinators for Democracy Programs and the National Endowment for Democracy

Not later than 180 days after enactment of this Act, and annually thereafter until September 30, 2026, the Coordinators for Democracy Programs established pursuant to section 7 and the President of the National Endowment for Democracy shall each submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report detailing research and development programs supported by the Department of State, USAID, and NED during the prior fiscal year. The report may be accompanied by a classified annex, if necessary.

(5)

Authorization of appropriations

Of the funds authorized to be appropriated by section 8, $15,000,000, to remain available until expended, should be made available for the Fund.

6.

Roles and responsibilities

Funds authorized to be appropriated pursuant to section 8 should be made available as follows, consistent with the overall strategic direction and capabilities of the Department of State and USAID:

(1)

For the Department of State, such funds should be the responsibility of the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, except for funds provided to NED. Such funds shall be made available as grants and should have as their primary purpose democracy programs that are flexible, innovative, and responsive to—

(A)

current human rights abuses and democracy deficiencies as documented in the annual Country Report on Human Rights Practices required by sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151n(d), 2304(b)); and

(B)

emerging opportunities and sudden crises.

(2)

For USAID, such funds should have as their primary purpose flexible, innovative, and responsive democracy programs that are development-oriented, often coordinated through a Country Development Cooperation Strategy, and conducted in countries where a USAID Mission is present or where a USAID Mission in a neighboring country can run such programs effectively. Such programs should, as appropriate, build local capacity with an eye to persistent multi-year efforts, incorporate democracy programming into a larger development strategy, and emphasize locally led programs when possible. Funds made available for civil society and political competition and consensus building programs abroad shall be provided in a manner that recognizes the benefits of grants and cooperative agreements in implementing such programs.

(3)

In cases where both the Department of State and USAID are able to respond to emerging opportunities and sudden crises, including in closed and repressive societies, the Coordinators of Democracy Programs established pursuant to section 7 shall coordinate their respective programs, including at the country level, to ensure complementarity and prevent waste or redundancy.

7.

Coordinators for democracy programs

The Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the Department of State and the Assistant Administrator for Development, Democracy, and Innovation shall serve concurrently as the Coordinators for Democracy Programs, and as Coordinators shall—

(1)

coordinate democracy policy and programs across relevant Federal agencies, at diplomatic facilities abroad, and with the NED regarding the safety, efficacy, and best practices of democracy programs abroad;

(2)

engage international partners, including foreign governments, civil society, and democracy activists, in addressing the advancement of democracy abroad; and

(3)

serve as the primary United States representatives at international fora on matters relating to democracy programs.

8.

Authorization of appropriations

(a)

Democracy programs

There are authorized to be appropriated for democracy programs in each of fiscal years 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026, to remain available until expended, $3,000,000,000, including for new Presidential initiatives regarding democracy promotion abroad.

(b)

Administration of department of state democracy programs

Of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this section that are made available for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the Department of State, up to 15 percent may be made available for the administration of democracy programs by such Bureau in each of fiscal years 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026, including for the hiring of additional personnel following consultation with the appropriate congressional committees. Such funds are in addition to funds otherwise made available for such purposes.

(c)

Administration of USAID democracy programs

Of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this section that are made available for the Bureau for Development, Democracy, and Innovation, USAID, up to 15 percent may be made available for the administration of democracy programs by such Bureau in each of fiscal years 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026, including for the hiring of additional personnel following consultation with the appropriate congressional committees. Such funds are in addition to funds otherwise made available for such purposes.