Washington, DC – This week, Representatives Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), alongside Representatives Jason Crow (D-CO) and Joe Wilson (R-SC), will introduce the Madeleine K. Albright Democracy in the 21st Century Act to modernize the tools the United States uses to defend democracy abroad. The bipartisan bill establishes new authorities and provides additional resources to address contemporary threats to democracy, including malign foreign interference, transnational corruption, and digital authoritarianism. This legislation has also been introduced in the Senate by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Rep. Cheney issued the following statement about this legislation:
“Since America’s founding, we have been a model for those who seek freedom around the world. Our country has been uniquely blessed and we have a particular duty to help ensure the defense and spread of freedom. It’s the right thing to do and our security depends upon it. I’m proud to cosponsor this bipartisan and bicameral legislation to provide critical funding and resources to support democracy and combat corruption and kleptocracy.”
The Madeleine K. Albright Democracy in the 21st Century Act establishes three funds with the aim to promote global democratic programming by the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The bill would authorize an increase in U.S. global democracy assistance to over $3 billion and establish funds that focus on 21st century threats like the proliferation of surveillance technologies and corrupt electoral practices.
The funds established by the Madeleine K. Albright Democracy in the 21st Century Act are flexible and can accept contributions from other donors, the private sector, and can contribute to multilateral organizations. These funds include:
- The Fund to Defend Democracy Globally: $20 million for the State Department and USAID to support democratic programs that bolster freedom of expression, election integrity, democratic technology use.
- The Fund to Combat Corruption and Kleptocracy: $20 million for the State Department and USAID to tackle threats to emerging democracies from corruption, including help to civil society, foreign governments, and the private sector.
- Democracy Research and Development Fund: $15 million for USAID to support research, development, and innovation within democratic programming, with an emphasis on technology and inter-department coordination and information sharing.
Threats to democracy are a national security concern for the United States and have evolved since the founding of America’s Reagan-era democracy organizations. Authoritarian regimes can now undermine democratic institutions using digital surveillance or use strategic bribery to taint elections in neighboring countries. Democracies consistently prove to be the most reliable geopolitical allies and trading partners for the United States, and outperform non-democracies in delivering prosperity, good governance, and stability.