Warner blames White House for election security bill not passing Congress

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Lawmakers scramble as shutdown deadline nears Steel lobby's PR blitz can't paper over damaging effects of tariffs Drama hits Senate Intel panel’s Russia inquiry MORE (D-Va.) on Friday said the White House prevented a bipartisan election security bill from passing Congress this year.

Warner, who is vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that if the bill known as the Secure Elections Act made it to the Senate floor, it would receive at least 80 votes in favor of passage.


“The objection has come from the White House,” he said at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security.

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Sens. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordGOP advances rules change to speed up confirmation of Trump nominees GOP senator calls Omar's apology 'entirely appropriate' New battle lines in war over Trump’s judicial picks MORE (R-Okla.) and Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Pollster says current 2020 surveys like picking best picture Oscar before movies come out O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation MORE (D-Minn.), is aimed at protecting election systems from cyberattacks. The measure was held up in committee this year because of a lack of GOP support, a Republican aide told The Hill at the time.

Reuters later reported that the White House had requested a pause on the legislation.

Some state and local election officials had raised concerns about some of the measures included in the bill, but Warner said Friday that he believes the officials who administer elections are ready to accept assistance from the federal government, and that lawmakers will try to pass the bill again next year.

He predicted that the House would pass the legislation during the next Congress when Democrats take control of the chamber.

Lankford told The Hill this week that the legislation will not be taken up again until next year at the earliest.

Warner made his remarks Friday during a question-and-answer session after he delivered a speech on U.S. cyber doctrine.

During the speech, he said the U.S. should take on a “whole-of-society” approach on cyber, and called for the nation to adopt international alliances to combat cyber threats from adversaries such as China and Russia.

He said there needs to be presidential support, including having a position in the White House solely dedicated to cyber.

Warner said after his speech that there is a lack of support from Trump on cybersecurity, particularly after U.S. intelligence determined that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

The senator said Trump’s “refusal" to fully acknowledge Russia's election interference "really disrupts and undermines some of the very good people in his administration who are trying to fight this battle."