WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement on reports that the State Department is declining to spend nearly $80 million allocated by Congress to fight ISIS and Russian propaganda:
“I am dismayed by reports that the State Department may not use nearly $80 million in funds set aside to counter Russian disinformation and ISIS propaganda. These funds have been authorized and appropriated by Congress for the vital efforts of the State Department to counter malign propaganda by foreign countries and to counter the extremist messaging of terrorist groups. The authorities for these funds were explicitly spelled out in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), reflecting the broad and bipartisan will of Congress. The intent of Congress could not have been more clear, and the State Department must ensure that there is a robust effort to carry out this work.
“I am particularly concerned because one State Department aide reportedly claimed the money was unwelcome because ‘any extra funding for programs to counter Russian media influence would anger Moscow.’ The U.S. Department of State should promote and represent the best interests and national security of the United States of America and its allies and aggressively counter these efforts, from whatever source. Any delay is unacceptable and ignores the attacks Russia has carried out on our country and our allies.
“I urge Secretary Tillerson to immediately develop and carry out a strategy for the use of these anti-propaganda funds to protect our nation and the American people.”