Portman Recently Led Effort to Ensure Bipartisan Law to Counter Foreign Disinformation and Propaganda is Effectively Funded

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Eric Ueland, nominee for Under Secretary of State for Management, confirmed to U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) that he would, if confirmed, work to ensure that the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) works effectively to push back against foreign disinformation and propaganda and receive the resources it needs. Portman is the author of the bipartisan Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act, legislation signed-into-law last year, which increases the authority, resources, and mandate of the GEC to include state actors like Russia and China as well as non-state actors. Portman has called on the State Department to use the funds authorized in their legislation to get the GEC up and running so it can begin to develop, integrate, and synchronize whole-of-government initiatives to expose and counter foreign disinformation operations by our adversaries and proactively advance fact-based narratives that support U.S. allies and interests.

Transcript of the questioning can be found below and a video can be found here.

Portman: “You and I talked a lot about the Global Engagement Center when we met in the context of this nomination and I told you my concern about the State Department not seeking the funding to be able to effectively push back against authoritarian regimes around the world who are using disinformation and propaganda more, meddling here in our country but also in fledgling democracies around the world. You gave me your commitment in those meetings that you wanted to focus on that issue as well. I noted that Secretary Tillerson did ask for the funding from the Department of Defense recently that we had authorized here in this body and I was really pleased to see that. I appreciate Deputy Secretary Sullivan reaching out to me in the last few days about this issue and ensuring that they have a commitment to getting the GEC stood up properly, both with regard to counter narrative on terrorism, ISIS, but also in regard to pushing back on disinformation. Can you make a commitment today to us that you will indeed continue that focus of making sure that the Global Engagement Center works effectively to push back and provide adequate resources for that?”

Ueland: “Senator, absolutely. To your point, we did have a good conversation on this. I believe the mission of the Global Engagement Center is critically important to advocating the United States’ point of view to both non-state and state actor propaganda and agitation against our way of life and the values that we represent. No question that, if I have the privilege to be confirmed, I’ll be working to seek to in any way that my portfolio interacts or supports the Global Engagement Center, ensuring that we are robustly acting through the Global Engagement Center as well as cross-up a wide variety of platforms throughout the government on behalf of the expressions of our values and pointing out some of the challenges that these other values being advocated for truly present to the world.”

Portman: “Thank you. My time has expired. I know it’s very important to this committee. Senator Murphy and I have this legislation that’s now in law, and we want to make sure it’s properly implemented. Every day, there’s a headline about some other aspect about this disinformation, so we appreciate your focus on that.”

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