Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called Tuesday for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow for votes on election security amendments to a must-pass defense bill.
Schumer’s requests for the Senate to consider the amendments come amid bipartisan acknowledgement of Russian interference in the 2016 election, described in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
The defense bill, which the Senate is expected to begin considering this week, “has always been about protecting national security and if protecting our elections from foreign interference isn’t a national security issue, then what the heck is?” Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.
Schumer warned that if Congress does not act on election security, there could be future interference in the 2020 election not only from Russia, but also from China, Iran and North Korea. He further slammed Senate Republicans for not doing more.
“The Republican Senate, leader McConnell just stands there and twiddles their thumbs and says almost, ‘Come on Putin let it happen,’” he said.
The minority leader said that in addition to asking for a vote on election security in the defense bill, Democrats will continue to offer up bills for voice votes with the hope that they will begin debate. He said Democrats will also push for more election security money in budget caps negotiations.
But many Republicans remain skeptical of election security legislation and argue that security improved during the 2018 election. Last week, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) blocked legislation from Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) that would require presidential campaigns to report to law enforcement any offers of help from a foreign agent or government. President Donald Trump said last week he would be willing to accept foreign opposition research.
Earlier this week, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) expressed skepticism of legislative efforts to address election security.
“I know there are some who believe we have to do more election reform,” she said. “I think some of it is calculated to add, I think, additional fuel to the Mueller report and the aftermath of that.”
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine
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