Senate Republicans blocked two election security bills and a cybersecurity measure on Wednesday in the wake of former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE warning about meddling attempts during his public testimony before congressional lawmakers.  

Democrats tried to get consent to pass two bills that would require campaigns to alert the FBI and Federal Election Commission about foreign offers of assistance, as well as a bill to let the Senate Sergeant at Arms offer voluntary cyber assistance for personal devices and accounts of senators and staff. 

But Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) blocked each of the bills. She didn't give reason for her objections, or say if she was objecting on behalf of herself or the Senate GOP caucus. 

Hyde-Smith, in a tweet on Thursday, accused Democrats of trying to pass "partisan" bills that had previously been blocked on the Senate floor. 

"Senate Democrats try to push partisan election bills without going through regular order right after the House hearings w/Mueller. Coincidence? Nope. Just more political theater instead of working together to secure US elections," she tweeted

ADVERTISEMENT

Under Senate rules, any one senator can ask for consent to pass a bill, but any one senator is able to object. 

The floor drama comes after Mueller warned about election interference during his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, saying Russia was laying the groundwork to interfere in the 2020 election "as we sit here."

“We are expecting them to do it again during the next campaign,” Mueller said.

But election interference bills face an uphill climb in the Senate, where Republicans aren't expected to move legislation through the Rules Committee, the panel with primary jurisdiction, and have warned about attempts to "federalize" elections. 

Democrats cited Mueller as they tried to get consent on Wednesday evening to pass their bills. 

"Mr. Mueller's testimony should serve as a warning to every member of this body about what could happen in 2020, literally in our next elections," said Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerBiden at Sen. John Warner's funeral: He 'gave me confidence' White House advisers huddle with Senate moderates on infrastructure Biden risks break with progressives on infrastructure MORE (D-Va.), the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. 

He added that "unfortunately, in the nearly three years since we uncovered Russia's attack on our democracy, this body has not held a single vote on stand-alone legislation to protect our elections." 

Warner tried to get consent to pass the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections Act by unanimous consent. Under Warner's bill, campaign officials would have to report contacts with foreign nationals who are trying to make campaign donations or coordinate with the campaign to the Federal Election Commission, which would in turn notify the FBI.

"If a foreign adversary tries to offer assistance to your campaign, your response should not be 'thank you.' Your response should be a moral obligation to tell the FBI," he said. 

But Hyde-Smith objected to passing his legislation. Sen. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnGOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Fauci on Blackburn video: 'No idea what she is talking about' Pentagon report clears use of drones made by top Chinese manufacturer MORE (R-Tenn.) similarly blocked the legislation in June, arguing that it was overly broad.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) tried to get consent to pass similar legislation that would require candidates, campaign officials and their family members to notify the FBI of assistance offers.

"It differs in some technical aspects [from the Warner bill] … but it is the same idea because it codifies into law what is already a moral duty, a patriotic duty and basic common sense," Blumenthal said.

Hyde-Smith also objected to Blumenthal's bill.

She objected a third time when Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHeat wave sparks historically unseasonable wildfires in West Biogen opens door to adjusting price of Alzheimer's drug amid outcry Overnight Health Care: White House acknowledges it will fall short of July 4 vaccine goal | Fauci warns of 'localized surges' in areas with low vaccination rates | Senate Finance leader releases principles for lowering prescription drug prices MORE (D-Ore.) tried to get consent to pass legislation he crafted with Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonJoint Chiefs chairman clashes with GOP on race theory, 'white rage' Senate Republicans: Newly proposed ATF rules could pave way for national gun registry Jon Stewart shows late-night conformity cabal how political comedy is done MORE (R-Ark.) that would allow the Senate Sergeant at Arms to provide voluntary cybersecurity assistance for personal accounts and devices of senators and staff.

"I don't see how anyone can consider what I have proposed to be a partisan issue," Wyden said. 

This story was updated on July 25 at 5:48 p.m.