Blue Dog Democrats push Congress to fund state election security

Blue Dog Democrats push Congress to fund state election security

Leaders of the Blue Dog Coalition on Tuesday urged House and Senate leaders to provide states with election security funds as part of the ongoing appropriations process.

The coalition, which consists of 26 moderate Democrats, wrote a letter to the bipartisan leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations committees asking for their support in including $600 million to be given to states in order to bolster election security as part of the ongoing appropriations process.

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“In light of the proven threat posed by Russia—and possibly other foreign powers—to our democratic process, we believe the final bill should provide $600 million or as close to it as possible,” the leaders of the coalition wrote.

They also asked for the House and Senate, when they meet to negotiate the differences between their versions of appropriations bills, to add language requiring the funds to go toward improving the cybersecurity of elections, such as providing cybersecurity training for election officials and moving toward voter-verified paper ballots.

The letter was signed by Reps. Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyOn The Money: Fed holds rates steady in end to challenging year | Powell says deal on new NAFTA could settle economic jitters | CEOs' economic outlook drops for seventh straight quarter House panel votes to temporarily repeal SALT deduction cap Blue Dogs issue new call for House leaders to abide by pay-go rule MORE (D-Fla.), Tom O’Halleran (D-Ariz.), Lou CorreaJose (Lou) Luis CorreaDemocrats reach cusp of impeachment Blue Dogs issue new call for House leaders to abide by pay-go rule FBI chief says racist extremists fueling one another, making connections overseas MORE (D-Calif.), Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), Kendra HornKendra Suzanne HornVulnerable Democrats swing behind impeachment push Democratic group launches .5M in ads backing vulnerable Dems on drug prices How centrist Dems learned to stop worrying and love impeachment MORE (D-Okla.) and Jeff Van DrewJeffrey (Jeff) Van DrewAnti-impeachment Democrat poised to switch parties Vulnerable Democrats swing behind impeachment push Pelosi says leadership won't pressure moderates to back impeachment MORE (D-N.J.).

The House in June passed its version of the fiscal 2020 financial services and general government funding bill, which includes $600 million to be given to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to distribute to states for election security efforts. That legislation includes language around how the funds can be used.

In contrast, the Senate Appropriations Committee last month included $250 million for the same issue in its version of the funding bill, which has not yet been voted on by the Senate, but its version did not include language specifying how states should use the funds beyond that they go toward elections. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment CNN's Cuomo promotes 'Dirty Donald' hashtag, hits GOP for 'loyalty oath' to Trump MORE (R-Ky.) co-sponsored the amendment that added the funds to the bill.

Congress previously appropriated $380 million to the EAC to give to states for election security efforts in 2018, money that has mostly been used by states to bolster cybersecurity.

The leaders of the coalition noted that “the current appropriations cycle represents Congress’s last chance to help states and localities harden their election infrastructure before the 2020 election.”

The Blue Dog Coalition has previously focused on election security efforts, sending a separate letter to the leaders of the House and Senate in September asking that they “put politics aside and pursue bipartisan solutions” to bolster election security ahead of 2020. 

Election security has been a divisive issue on Capitol Hill over the past few months, with the Democrat-controlled House passing multiple bills designed to bolster election security that have been blocked by Senate Republicans, who have cited concerns about the bills federalizing elections.