Advocacy groups push Senate to include election security money in funding bill

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A group of advocacy organizations including the Sierra Club and Indivisible are pushing the Senate to include election security funds in the upcoming continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government.

The groups are pressing for $600 million in spending, and argue that the nation will run out of time to protect its elections if the funding isn’t won.

The groups, led by Stand Up America, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday arguing for the money. They say it should be given to states to shore up election security ahead of next year.{mosads} 

“Time has almost run out to provide states with the resources they need to protect the 2020 election,” the groups wrote. “The best opportunity for lawmakers to effectively secure our elections before 2020 is by including $600 million in directed appropriations for election security in the continuing resolution that will extend government funding past November 21, 2019—when current government funding runs out.”

Lawmakers are working on a stopgap measure that could last just into the first weeks of December. They would then have to pass a larger appropriations measure, or another stopgap or CR to prevent a shutdown.

Other groups who signed the letter included Greenpeace USA, Democracy 21, Franciscan Action Network, New American Leaders Action Fund, Secure Elections Network, CREDO, Clean Elections Texas, Business for America, and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice.

The House included $600 million for election security purposes in its 2020 financial services and general government bill, while the Senate included $250 million for election security in its version of the bill, which the Senate has not yet voted on. 

The organizations argued that while they were “encouraged” by the Senate bill, “the amount falls woefully short of what is needed by the states.”

The groups cited testimony given on Capitol Hill by former special counsel Robert Mueller in July that the Russians are attempting to interfere in U.S. elections “as we sit here” in criticizing the Senate. 

“More than four months after Mueller’s declaration, the Senate has not passed a single piece of legislation that would secure our elections,” the groups wrote. “That is an abject failure.”

The Senate did pass two measures prior to Mueller’s testimony that would make tampering with voting systems a federal crime, and ban foreign individuals that attempt to interfere with U.S. elections from entering the country.

Congress also previously appropriated $380 million for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to give to states in 2018 to increase election security. The EAC expects around 85 percent of these funds to have been spent by states prior to the 2020 elections. 

The letter on Tuesday was sent two weeks after almost 100 former members of Congress, ambassadors and top officials sent a separate letter to the Senate urging leaders to take action and pass various long-stalled election security bills and give states more funding for election security.

The former officials described foreign interference in American elections as “a national security emergency.”

Tags Charles Schumer Mitch McConnell Robert Mueller

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