The influence of foreign powers in the US political system has been a cause for great concern in recent years, with the 2016 US presidential election embroiled in controversy for that very reason.
It was a period which saw potentially the most controversial president in US history come into power, Donald Trump, amid rumours and mistrust regarding the impact of Russian interference in the due course of the US political process.
Now, new legislation is being passed that aims to ensure no repeat of the problems surrounding 2016 can take place in the future, with the Election Security Bill the third article of legislation to have been passed by the House of Representatives to target this issue.
Why is foreign interference such a big problem?
In the wake of the Mueller report into potential interference in the 2016 election process, as well as the current impeachment inquiry surrounding Trump's supposed request for the Ukrainian president to investigate one of his political rivals, there has been a sharp focus on demonstrating the integrity of the US political system.
When foreign powers can influence the result of an election or hold sway over the course of political policy in the US this calls into question the very legitimacy of the US government and its officials.
As a result, Democrat members of the House have been moving forward with legislation that is designed to safeguard against such indecencies in the future and to restore the faith of the public in the integrity of the US political process.
"Most Americans know that foreign governments have no business interfering in our elections," commented Zoe Lofgren, chair of the House Administration Committee.
"We should all be able to agree that we need to protect our democracy - and with a sense of urgency. This is not a partisan opinion. Nothing less than our national security is at stake."
What does the new bill state?
Aimed at closing loopholes around any potentially dishonest behaviour of politicians who engage with foreign figures, as well as increasing a range of disclosure and transparency requirements, the new bill ensures anyone found guilty of these misdeeds will be fully held to account.
It paves the way for the introduction of the new Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy Act, or SHIELD Act, which will focus on reducing the influence of "hidden, foreign disinformation campaigns" by ensuring all political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio and satellite.
It follows the significant role played by social media in the 2016 US election, which saw an array of online advertisements designed to sway voter opinion that were subsequently shown to have been funded and created by Russia.
As part of the new bill, campaign teams for future presidential candidates will face closer scrutiny regarding their spending to foreign parties. At the same time, the offering of private campaign material to foreign governments and their agents would be deemed an illegal solicitation of support.
A need for checks and balances
However, not all members of the US political spectrum were happy with the new legislation.
Responding to its passing, a statement from the White House read: "[The bill's] expansive definitions seem designed to instill a persistent fear among Americans engaged in political activity that any interactions they may have with a foreign national could put them in legal jeopardy".
Meanwhile, president of the Washington-based watchdog group Common Cause Karen Hobert Flynn argued: "If the White House refuses to take appropriate steps to safeguard our elections, and worse overtly solicits the aid of foreign governments for political purposes, then it falls to Congress to act for the good of our nation."
Recent days have seen a steady rise in stock market performance across the US, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite Index all demonstrating positive upward momentum.
It now remains to be seen how the fallout from the ongoing Trump impeachment inquiry will affect market confidence in the days and weeks to come, especially as the spectre of foreign influence once more raises its head in the US political landscape.