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Senate GOP blocks three election security bills for second day

Senate Republicans blocked three election security bills on Wednesday, marking the second time in as many days they've stymied legislation.

Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe next pandemic may be cyber — How Biden administration can stop it Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief Social media posts, cellphone data aid law enforcement investigations into riots MORE (D-Va.), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharSenators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Biden agenda, Trump impeachment trial dominate Klobuchar says Senate impeachment trial of former official is constitutional: 'We have precedent' MORE (D-Minn.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Intelligence agency gathers US smartphone location data without warrants, memo says | Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian hack on DOJ, courts | Airbnb offers Biden administration help with vaccine distribution Intelligence agency gathers US smartphone location data without warrants, memo says Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury MORE (D-Ore.) asked for unanimous consent to pass three election-related bills.

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But they were blocked by Sen. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Colbert asks Republicans 'have you had enough?' in live show after Capitol violence MORE (R-Tenn.), who noted that the unsuccessful attempt was the latest by Democrats to pass election security bills in the Senate ahead of 2020.

“You know, it’s not a good sign if you’re doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result," Blackburn said.

Under Senate rules, any one senator can ask to vote on or pass a bill. But because it requires unanimous support, any one senator can also block their requests.

Election security has become a point of contention during the Trump era. House Democrats have passed several election-related bills, including a sweeping ethics and election reform measure, but they've hit a wall in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tried to pass legislation that would require campaign officials to report contacts with foreign nationals who are trying to make donations or coordinate with the campaign to the Federal Election Commission, which would notify the FBI.

“The alarm bells are going off and what are we doing? We’re running out of time to do something about it," Warner said from the Senate floor.

Warner added that if a foreign government offers to interfere to help a campaign "the appropriate response is not to say thank you. The appropriate response is to call the FBI."

House Democrats are in the middle of an impeachment inquiry focused on President TrumpDonald TrumpMore than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's coronavirus response: poll Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor Mexico's president tests positive for COVID-19 MORE asking Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenFive examples of media's sycophancy for Biden on inauguration week Drastic measures for drastic times — caregiver need mobile health apps Boycott sham impeachment MORE and his son, Hunter Biden, and whether or not he held up aid to try to build pressure.

Klobuchar, a 2020 White House hopeful and the top Democrat on the Rules Committee, on Wednesday tried to pass legislation requiring campaigns to report “illicit offers” of election assistance from foreign governments or individuals to both the FBI and the Federal Election Commission, and take steps to ensure that political advertisements on social media are subject to the same stricter rules as ads on television or radio.

"It’s about protecting our election hardware and infrastructure but it is also about protecting us from this disinformation campaign, all of this really bad stuff," Klobuchar said.

The legislation, known as the SHIELD Act, is expected to get a vote in the House on Wednesday.

Wyden, meanwhile, tried to pass legislation, known as the SAFE Act, that would authorize more funding for the Election Assistance Commission and includes language that would ban voting machines from being connected to the internet and being produced in foreign countries.

Blackburn also objected to that bill.

“I just find it stunning that the Republican Party continues its wall-to-wall campaign of obstruction against election security," Wyden countered.

The back-and-forth on the Senate floor came after Sens. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Senate chaos threatens to slow Biden's agenda NRSC chair says he'll back GOP incumbents against Trump primary challengers MORE (R-S.D.) and John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) blocked an attempt by Democrats to pass legislation on Tuesday.