Blue Dog Democrats push Congress to fund state election security

Leaders of the Blue Dog Coalition on Tuesday urged House and Senate leaders to provide states with election security funds as part of the ongoing appropriations process.

The coalition, which consists of 26 moderate Democrats, wrote a letter to the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations committees asking for their support in including $600 million to be given to states in order to bolster election security as part of the ongoing appropriations process.

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“In light of the proven threat posed by Russia—and possibly other foreign powers—to our democratic process, we believe the final bill should provide $600 million or as close to it as possible,” the leaders of the coalition wrote.

They also asked for the House and Senate, when they meet to negotiate the differences between their versions of appropriations bills, to add language requiring the funds to go toward improving the cybersecurity of elections, such as providing cybersecurity training for election officials and moving toward voter-verified paper ballots.

The letter was signed by Reps. Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyHouse Democrats clash over Pelosi’s drug pricing bill Hillicon Valley: Amazon poised to escalate Pentagon ‘war cloud’ fight | FCC’s move to target Huawei garners early praise | Facebook sues Israeli firm over alleged WhatsApp hack | Blue Dog Dems push election security funding Blue Dog Democrats push Congress to fund state election security MORE (D-Fla.), Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), Lou CorreaJose (Lou) Luis CorreaHillicon Valley: Amazon poised to escalate Pentagon ‘war cloud’ fight | FCC’s move to target Huawei garners early praise | Facebook sues Israeli firm over alleged WhatsApp hack | Blue Dog Dems push election security funding Blue Dog Democrats push Congress to fund state election security Lawmakers beat Capitol Police in Congressional Football Game MORE (D-Calif.), Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornHillicon Valley: Amazon poised to escalate Pentagon ‘war cloud’ fight | FCC’s move to target Huawei garners early praise | Facebook sues Israeli firm over alleged WhatsApp hack | Blue Dog Dems push election security funding Blue Dog Democrats push Congress to fund state election security Democrats unveil impeachment procedures MORE (D-Okla.) and Jeff Van DrewJeff Van DrewHouse to vote for first time on impeachment procedures The Hill’s 12:30 Report — Presented by USAA — Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies Trump pushed for her ouster Schiff becomes key Democrat in battle with Trump MORE (D-N.J.).

The House in June passed its version of the fiscal 2020 financial services and general government funding bill, which includes $600 million to be given to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to distribute to states for election security efforts. That legislation includes language around how the funds can be used.

In contrast, the Senate Appropriations Committee last month included $250 million for the same issue in its version of the funding bill, which has not yet been voted on by the Senate, but its version did not include language specifying how states should use the funds beyond that they go toward elections. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Defense: House approves Turkey sanctions in rebuke of Trump | Trump attacks on Army officer testifying spark backlash | Dems want answers from Esper over Ukraine aid Mark Mellman: Three questions for Republicans Menendez seeks probe into if Pompeo violated Hatch Act MORE (R-Ky.) co-sponsored the amendment that added the funds to the bill.

Congress previously appropriated $380 million to the EAC to give to states for election security efforts in 2018, money that has mostly been used by states to bolster cybersecurity.

The leaders of the coalition noted that “the current appropriations cycle represents Congress’s last chance to help states and localities harden their election infrastructure before the 2020 election.”

The Blue Dog Coalition has previously focused on election security efforts, sending a separate letter to the leaders of the House and Senate in September asking that they “put politics aside and pursue bipartisan solutions” to bolster election security ahead of 2020. 

Election security has been a divisive issue on Capitol Hill over the past few months, with the Democrat-controlled House passing multiple bills designed to bolster election security that have been blocked by Senate Republicans, who have cited concerns about the bills federalizing elections.

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