Cybersecurity

Senate panel postpones election security bill markup over lack of GOP support

A long-anticipated hearing on legislation to protect U.S. elections from cyberattacks was postponed Wednesday over concerns the legislation did not have enough Republican support.

A spokeswoman for Senate Rules and Administration Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) confirmed to The Hill that the markup had been postponed, shortly before it was scheduled to begin.

A GOP Senate aide told The Hill that the secretaries of several states had "expressed concerns about certain provisions" in the legislation.

"In order for a truly bipartisan election security bill to reach the floor, additional majority support is necessary," the aide said.

The legislation, promoted by Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), would help guard election systems against cyberattacks.

Klobuchar said in a statement that she was "disappointed" by the markup's delay, thanking Democrats who supported it and calling it "irresponsible" to not pass legislation ahead of the November midterm elections.

"For everyone else who delayed this action today, I hope that you will listen to the clarion cry of our intelligence community and continue to work with us and reschedule the markup and pass the bill into law," she said.

Vermont Secretary of State and National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) President Jim Condos (D) had criticized the bill during a press call on Tuesday, saying that he could not support the legislation as currently written, Politico reported.

State election officials had raised concerns over the bill since Lankford and Klobuchar introduced it last December; the senators have since introduced new versions of the legislation to address some of those worries.

Blunt unveiled his amended version of the legislation last week, which removes the initial version's requirement that states conduct post-election audits with paper records.

The new version of the bill would also mandate that the Homeland Security secretary establish a "template" for states receiving federal election security funds when drafting plans on how to combat election cyber threats.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee - Reps. Tom Rooney (R-Fla.), Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Jim Himes (D-Conn.) and Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) - introduced a companion election security bill in the House earlier this month. 

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