Despite the threat of Russian interference in 2020, Republican Senators on Tuesday shot down Democrats’ attempts to pass three election security bills, blocking their unanimous consent motions on what Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described as “bipartisan, non-controversial bills.”
“We need substantive legislation,” Schumer told reporters after the consent motion failed. “We’ll see if our Republican friends are willing to stand up and do what’s necessary to protect elections, something Americans have died for through the centuries.”
Among other things, the legislation would’ve required political campaigns to disclose offers of foreign assistance to the FBI and the Federal Elections Commission—an obvious response to the Trump campaign, which special counsel Robert Mueller found welcomed Moscow’s 2016 meddling and did not report its outreach. (Trump has said he might not alert the FBI if a foreign official offered dirt this time around). Senate Democrats also attempted to provide more funding to election security and restrictions on voting machines. But Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn objected, quashing the unanimous consent requests and accusing Democrats of attempting to score political points against the president and his allies. “They are attempting to bypass this body’s Rules Committee on behalf of various bills that will seize control over elections from the states and take it from the states and where do they want to put it? They want it to rest in the hands of Washington, D.C. bureaucrats,” she said, per the Hill.
Blackburn’s objection was just the latest instance of the GOP blocking Democrat-proposed legislation to strengthen America’s election security in the wake of 2016’s Kremlin interference, and comes amid new warnings that Russia and other foreign actors are plotting to meddle in November’s election. “Russia’s cyber operations have been successful and, to date, have not been sanctioned enough by the West to force Russia to abandon them,” an Estonian intelligence report obtained Wednesday by NBC News concluded. “The main goal is to ensure a more beneficial election result for Russia by favoring Russian-friendly candidates or those who have the most divisive influence in the West.”
The NBC reports follows FBI director Christopher Wray last week warning of Russia engaging in “information warfare” and tracks with United States intelligence assessments, which have led House Democrats to pass several election security measures—only to see them die in the Republican-held Senate, which also, of course, acquitted the president on charges that he attempted to coerce Ukraine into interfering in 2020. “We know we can’t trust this president to stand up for the integrity of our elections,” Schumer said Tuesday. “So Congress must.”
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