[Image via reuters]
Democrats in the United States Senate are going to ramp up pressure to consider election security legislation with attempts to push standalone debate and votes on a series of bills. The Hill has more:
Senate Democrats will try to force votes on additional election security legislation as they aim to pressure Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) into taking action on the issue.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters Tuesday that Democrats will go to the floor to try to bring up the bills by unanimous consent, a move that will force a GOP senator to come to the floor and block the bills or let them pass.
“We’re going to hold stand-alone votes on the many bills that already exist on election security,” Schumer told reporters, outlining the Senate Democrats’ strategy.
Senators are hoping to respond, if not match, funding levels being debated on the House side:
The New York senator added that Democrats would push for additional election security funding in the upcoming budget and appropriations negotiations. House Democrats included $600 million for the Election Assistance Commission in an appropriations bill.
Schumer didn’t specify what level of funding Senate Democrats will ask for, except that it will be “more robust.”
“It is Congress’s solemn obligation to protect our elections … and any leader who doesn’t do that is abdicating their responsibilities to our grand democracy,” Schumer added on Tuesday.
Democrats will also seek to offer amendments to the defense authorization bill:
The Senate is expected to start debate on the National Defense Authorization Act this week. Democrats have offered some election security-related amendments, but it’s unclear if they’ll be allowed to come up for a vote.
The push for additional election security votes comes as Democrats have launched a broader effort to try to pressure McConnell into moving election security legislation.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters late last week that House Democrats will move a new package of election security bills, arguing the president has been “so cavalier to disregard, to be indifferent to law and any sense of ethics about who we are as a country to say he would invite foreign interventions.”
The package, according to Pelosi, will include legislation that requires campaigns to report contact from foreign nationals to the FBI, mandates states use paper ballots and closes “foreign money loopholes.”
Republican leadership, however, has signaled that it does not intend to allow votes on election security, citing fears that the federal government would seize control of elections from state and local governments:
But there are no signs that the election security legislation will be able to move in the GOP-controlled Senate, where Republicans blocked legislation last week requiring that campaigns report contact from foreign nationals to the FBI.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, has said he does not intend to bring up legislation in his committee, a first step to getting a vote on the floor.
And McConnell told Fox News last week that he wouldn’t support legislation that took away control of elections from state and local governments.
“I’m open to considering legislation, but it has to be directed in a way that doesn’t undermine state and local control of elections. The Democrats … would like to nationalize everything. They want the federal government to take over broad swaths of the election process because they think that would somehow benefit them,” McConnell said.
“Election security I do care about, but we need to make sure the subject is election security.”
Senate consideration and approval of election security legislation is a necessary (if currently unlikely) step, but wouldn’t guarantee final passage, given the President’s apparent skepticism about the need for action. Still, for election officials across the nation seeking more support (and, candidly, funding) for election security efforts, the Senate is the place to watch for now. Stay tuned …