Schumer predicts McConnell will fold on blocking election security bills

Schumer predicts McConnell will fold on blocking election security bills
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerCollins walks impeachment tightrope 'Emotion' from Trump's legal team wins presidential plaudits Biden says he would not engage in witness swap in impeachment trial MORE (D-N.Y.) on Thursday predicted that Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - House prosecutes Trump as 'lawless,' 'corrupt' Tensions between McConnell and Schumer run high as trial gains momentum No. 2 GOP leader eyes Wednesday of next week for possible votes on witnesses MORE (R-Ky.) will bring up election security legislation in the fall after a sustained pressure campaign.

Schumer, while hedging that he's not "naive," argued that Republicans are under fire to move legislation to bolster the nation's elections ahead of the 2020 elections.  

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"I do want to make one prediction: I predict that the pressure will continue to mount on Republican senators, especially Leader McConnell, and they will be forced to join us in taking meaningful action on election security this fall," Schumer told reporters during a pre-recess press conference.  

The prediction comes as Republicans have blocked election security bills from passing the Senate. Most of the bills are backed only by Democrats, allowing McConnell and his allies to argue that Democrats are making "gotcha" requests to try to put Republicans on the spot. 

"Our friends came to the floor last week and they sought unanimous consent to make sweeping changes to the election laws of the country and then somehow suggested there is conspiracy that anybody would say no to that. ... Unanimous consent means exactly that. It's what we do when we name a post office," Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSekulow indicates White House not interested in motion to dismiss impeachment articles Nadler gets under GOP's skin Grassley signs USMCA, sending it to Trump's desk MORE (R-Mo.) said from the Senate floor this week.  

McConnell blocked two bills last week, earning him fierce criticism from Democrats as well as some pundits, including MSNBC host Joe ScarboroughCharles (Joe) Joseph ScarboroughBiden to CBS reporter: 'Why, why, why, why, why?' Controversial radio host Don Imus dies at 79 Scarborough: 'Teflon Joe' Biden weathering storm amid Warren's 'political bleeding' MOREwho nicknamed him "Moscow Mitch." 

One bill blocked by McConnell would require the use of paper ballots and includes funding for the Election Assistance Commission. The second would have required candidates, campaign officials and their family members to notify the FBI of assistance offers from foreign governments.

McConnell delivered a fiery speech from the Senate floor on Monday defending his decision to block the bills, arguing that Democrats tried to get consent to pass the bills knowing they would be blocked. 

“I was called unpatriotic, un-American and essentially treasonous by a couple of left-wing pundits on the basis of bold-faced lies. I was accused of aiding and abetting the very man I’ve singled out as an adversary and opposed for nearly 20 years, Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinA new era in Russia will allow America to rethink its policy US officials, world leaders arrive in Israel for World Holocaust Forum  No patriotic poll bump for Trump, but Soleimani strike may still help him politically MORE,” McConnell said during a fiery speech from the Senate floor. 

He added that his critics, specifically pointing out The Washington Post and MSNBC, were using “unhinged smears,” adding, “Welcome to modern-day McCarthyism.”

The pushback from Republicans has Democrats believing they are getting under McConnell's skin with their criticism. Republicans have warned for months that they will not move the House-passed election security bills or legislation they believe "federalizes" the elections.

Asked on Thursday if the unanimous consent requests were a stunt, Schumer demurred, saying Democrats want "to do something on election security."

"If McConnell would bring something to the floor and we can debate it we wouldn't have to ask for UCs. We're forcing his hand and as I think you've seen by his reaction it's having some success. Because he knows stymieing it is not good for America and not good for the Republican Party and frankly not very good for him," he said.