Senate Democrats to try to force additional election security votes

Senate Democrats to try to force additional election security votes
© Aaron Schwartz

Senate Democrats will try to force votes on additional election security legislation as they aim to pressure Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden spar over coronavirus response Senator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy Schumer praises choice of Defense inspector general to oversee corporate lending fund MORE (R-Ky.) into taking action on the issue.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJoe Biden can't lead the charge from his home in Delaware Texas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing MORE (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.

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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.

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 PelosiNancy PelosiMeadows resigns from Congress, heads to White House Pelosi floats undoing SALT deduction cap in next coronavirus bill Overnight Health Care: More states order residents to stay at home | Trump looks to sell public on coronavirus response | Judges block Ohio, Texas abortion bans | Dems eye infrastructure in next relief bill MORE (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."

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 BluntRoy Dean BluntHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Lawmakers already planning more coronavirus stimulus after T package Senate Democrats vow to keep pushing for more funds for mail-in voting MORE (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.”