Skip to content

TRANSCRIPT: Majority Leader Schumer Remarks At Rules Committee Markup On The Impact Of Artificial Intelligence On Our Elections

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke at the Rules Committee markup of three bills to protect our elections from the dangerous impacts of artificial intelligence. Leader Schumer voiced his support for all three bills: S. 2770, the Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act, S. 3875, the AI Transparency in Elections Act of 2024, and S. 3897, the Preparing Election Administrators for AI Act.

Thank you, Chair Klobuchar and Ranking Member Fischer. Thanks for giving me a chance to say a few words here at the committee. I appreciate my colleagues all being here.

Look: we are here today because in a short time, generative artificial intelligence has changed our world in dramatic ways, and has permanently changed our understanding of what it takes to protect our elections.

As we all know, Americans go to the polls in a few months, and it’s fair to say the 2024 elections will be the first ever held – the first national elections held – in the age of AI. Congress has a responsibility to adapt to this brave new world.

So, I am deeply grateful for Chair Klobuchar and the members of this committee for holding this important and timely markup. Chair Klobuchar has been an outstanding leader on this issue and I appreciate everything she’s done to keep this bipartisan. I have worked to do the same. In the way the Senate works, and the House Republican, if you don’t do it bipartisan, you don’t get it done, and so it’s a great start to get that done.

I’ve done the same thing. Last fall, I worked with, as you all know, Senators Heinrich, Rounds and Young to create the Bipartisan Senate AI Working Group. This morning, after months of hard work, we released our Policy Roadmap summarizing the findings of our Insight Forums, and I will make sure everybody gets a copy as soon as possible.

I am proud to say the bipartisan Roadmap embraces action to protect elections that mirror the proposals before us today.

Because if we are not careful, AI has the potential to jaundice or even totally discredit our election systems. If deep fakes are everywhere and no one believes the results of the elections, woe is our democracy. This is so damn serious. And that's why it is important to get something done and it’s going to take bipartisan cooperation if we have any hope to getting legislation enacted into law.

The three bills taken up by the Rules Committee represent a very good start. They will prohibit deep fakes of federal candidates, require disclaimers when AI is heavily featured in political ads, and offer guidance for administrators to keep our elections structure safe.

Each bill enjoys bipartisan support. All three have been endorsed by more than 40 current experts and election officials and national security experts.

They’re supported by former Secretaries of Defense, former Vice Chairs of the Joint Chiefs, and industry leaders. So, I encourage members of this committee on both sides of the aisle: let’s not make this a partisan issue. Deep fakes can occur to Democrats – can victimize Democrats and Republicans equally in primaries, in general elections, etc.

The clock is ticking to protect our democracy from a technology more powerful than we’ve ever seen before.

I hope my colleagues who question the need for Congressional action think carefully about the consequences of doing nothing. And our AI report – bipartisan – supports these proposals.

So, I hope my colleagues will think about the consequences of doing nothing. You know, as Theodore Roosevelt said, we are in the arena right now. It’d be easy, politically probably, easier for Senator Klobuchar and the other sponsors to sit back and do nothing. But it won’t accomplish anything. And then when things go bad in the elections, everyone is going to say, why didn’t you do something?

So, do we really want to live in a democracy where political campaigns – or other unscrupulous actors – have free reign to use AI-generated deep fakes to smear political opponents?

Do we want to be inundated with political ads that utilize AI day after day, without a shred of transparency or accountability? When you see one image of the presidential candidate and another and another, and they’re not real? It’s obvious it’s going to screw up our elections to a fare thee well and diminish peoples’ trust in government.

Once damaging misinformation is sent to a hundred million homes, it is hard – oftentimes impossible – to put the genie back in the bottle.

Our democracy may never recover if we lose the ability to differentiate at all between what is true and what is false, as AI threatens to do. That is why Congress needs to pass bipartisan bills like the one presented today Mark Warner mentioned tech companies should be doing more – of course they should. But what happens if you don’t have a government regulation? The corner cutter, the least defined deviancy down, as my predecessor, Senator Moynihan said. Because if one company doesn't do it, all the others won’t do it because they will be at some kind of competitive disadvantage. So, you need governmental guardrails on this area and so many others.

The federal government is way behind the states. No fewer than fourteen states – red and blue alike, Texas, Florida, Idaho – all put in legislation here, proving it’s not a partisan issue.

And most of the bills were bipartisan. Texas supported things unanimously, as I’m sure Senator Klobuchar has reminded you. Because she has reminded us repeatedly.

So, let’s get this done. Let’s get it done in a bipartisan way. Let’s not make this issue, which affects our democracy, which we all love, even if we have different ideological prescriptions as to how it should proceed, let’s get this done together. It would be a good moment for the Congress, for this committee, for the Senate, for America.

Thank you. I am proud to vote for these bills.