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Paul Junge
stated on July 16, 2020 in a Facebook post:
Says Rep. Elissa Slotkin “voted against condemning cyber attacks by the Chinese Communist Party on American organizations developing COVID-19 treatments.”
true false
Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., speaks during a House Homeland Security Committee meeting in July 2020. (AP) Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., speaks during a House Homeland Security Committee meeting in July 2020. (AP)

Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., speaks during a House Homeland Security Committee meeting in July 2020. (AP)

Clara Hendrickson
By Clara Hendrickson August 24, 2020

Fact-check: Junge says Slotkin voted against condemning Chinese cyberattacks. That’s not true.

If Your Time is short

  • Hackers linked to China are launching attacks on American companies and institutions working to develop a treatment for the coronavirus, federal officials have warned.

  • Slotkin voted to take up consideration of an infrastructure bill rather than allowing an amendment that would have forced the House to consider a resolution on sanctioning Chinese cyberattacks to be offered. She didn’t vote against the resolution.

  • Slotkin later voted for a failed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 authorizing sanctions against foreign actors conducting cyberattacks on organizations and individuals engaged in coronavirus research. 

Paul Junge, the Republican nominee running to unseat incumbent Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly, wrote a Facebook post criticizing Slotkin for failing to support action on Chinese cyberattacks targeting American companies and researchers working to develop vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus.

"She voted against condemning cyber attacks by the Chinese Communist Party on American organizations developing COVID-19 treatments," Junge claimed.

Slotkin, a former national-security aide to presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, won election in 2018 in a traditionally Republican district in Southeast Michigan. She is fighting a challenge from Junge, a former prosecutor and TV anchor.

Junge is referring to a resolution introduced by Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., condemning the cyberattacks and calling on the administration to punish those engaged in the attacks through sanctions. During debate on whether to take up a major infrastructure bill, Rep. Robert Woodall, R-Ga., attempted to force the House to begin considering Kinzinger’s resolution instead.

That’s where Slotkin joined Democrats and voted to begin considering the infrastructure bill. Junge’s claim interprets Slotkin’s vote on a procedural move as a vote against the resolution condemning the cyberattacks.

But there was no vote on Kinzinger’s resolution.

What did the House vote on?

In May, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a public warning that hackers linked to China are engaged in cyberattacks to steal information from American research institutions and pharmaceutical companies working to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Russian hackers are also attacking universities, companies and other entities working conducting research on a coronavirus vaccine, federal officials have warned.

Kinzinger, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, responded to these warnings with a resolution condemning the attacks. The House has yet to take a vote on it.

President Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress have stepped up their attacks on China as they hone their messages for the fall campaign.

On June 30, the House considered a resolution to take up the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill authorizing funds for federal highway, road safety and transit programs.

The bill includes $300 billion for fixing roads and bridges and provides funding to states to expand broadband access. It also includes several water-quality provisions of particular interest to Michiganders, including reauthorizing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

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During debate on the House floor, Rep. Robert Woodall, R-Ga., promised to offer an amendment that would have forced the House to immediately consider Rep. Kinzinger’s resolution condemning Chinese cyberattacks.

The House then took a vote on whether to end debate on taking up the infrastructure bill. In this case, voting against ending debate would have delayed consideration of the Moving Forward Act and allowed Rep. Woodall to offer his amendment to consider Rep. Kinzinger’s resolution.

New York Democratic Rep. Joe Morelle, who introduced the resolution to consider the Moving Forward Act, noted his support for "any resolutions on Chinese and Russian interference in American activities," adding, "the work in front of us, however, is a $1.5 trillion transportation bill desperately needed for American citizens throughout this country."

The House cast a party-line vote to begin debating the Moving Forward Act, which passed the next day and is awaiting a vote in the Senate. As a result of this vote, Kinzinger’s resolution did not come up for consideration that day.

Junge, as well as stories from The Washington Free Beacon and The Federalist, claimed that the House’s vote was a rejection of Kinzinger’s resolution.

Slotkin "voted against considering a condemnation of Chinese cyber attacks," said Rob Wagener, Paul Junge’s campaign manager. She "could have demonstrated some of the moderation she promised" by voting against moving forward with a debate on the infrastructure bill "but she didn’t."

Slotkin’s campaign defended her move to keep the infrastructure bill on track.

"There is no reason to choose between confronting China's malign cyber activity and fixing our roads and bridges," said Gordon Trowbridge, Slotkin’s campaign spokesperson.

Soon after the Free Beacon and Federalist reports, Slotkin was among only 14 Democratic lawmakers to support returning the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 back to the Committee on Armed Services to add an amendment authorizing sanctions against foreign actors conducting cyberattacks on organizations and people engaged in coronavirus research.

The motion failed, and the law passed the House without any such amendment.

Our ruling

Junge claimed that Slotkin "voted against condemning cyber attacks by the Chinese Communist Party on American organizations developing COVID-19 treatments."

Slotkin did not vote for or against the Kinzinger resolution to condemn Chinese-linked cyberattacks. That resolution did not come up for a vote. The vote was on moving forward with consideration on an infrastructure bill. Weeks later, she voted for a measure authorizing sanctions for cyberattacks on coronavirus researchers, but it did not pass.

Junge’s post is not accurate. We rate this claim False.  

Our Sources

Paul Junge, Facebook post, July 16, 2020

116th Congress, "H.Res.1031 - Condemning the cyber attacks on American persons and organizations conducting research related to COVID-19 and expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that those responsible for perpetrating such belligerent acts should face consequences.," introduced July 30, 2020

CNN, "US officially warns China is launching cyberattacks to steal coronavirus research," May 13, 2020

FBI, "People’s Republic of China (PRC) Targeting of COVID-19 Research Organizations," May 13, 2020

The New York Times, "Russia Is Trying to Steal Virus Vaccine Data, Western Nations Say," July 16, 2020

116th Congress, "H.Res.1028 - Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 2) to authorize funds for Federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, and transit programs, and for other purposes.," introduced July 30, 2020

116th Congress, "H.R.2 - Moving Forward Act," introduced June 11, 2020

116th Congress, "Congressional Record," June 30, 2020

The Washington Free Beacon, "House Dems Reject Resolution Condemning China for Coronavirus Cyberattacks," June 30, 2020

The Federalist, "House Democrats Block Resolution Condemning Chinese Cyberattacks On Vaccine Efforts," June 30, 2020

116th Congress, "Congressional Record," July 21, 2020

116th Congress, "H.R.6395 - William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021," introduced March 26, 2020

Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, "Roll Call 151 | Bill Number: H. R. 6395," July 21, 2020

Clerk of the United States House of Representatives, "Roll Call 152 | Bill Number: H. R. 6395," July 21, 2020

Rob Wagener, Paul Junge for Congress Campaign Manager, email exchange, July 24, 2020

House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, "The Moving Forward Act Fact Sheet," accessed August 12, 2020

116th Congress, Congressional Record, "Daily Digest," June 30, 2020

Michigan Radio, Stateside, "Stateside: Rep. Slotkin; restaurants open while gyms stay closed; MI LGBTQ pioneer Jim Toy," June 25, 2020 

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Fact-check: Junge says Slotkin voted against condemning Chinese cyberattacks. That’s not true.

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