GOP criticizes Pelosi for sidelining election security for impeachment

GOP criticizes Pelosi for sidelining election security for impeachment
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“Only 337 days remain before the 2020 election and the Committee has the important duty of ensuring that states have the resources they need in order to safeguard this upcoming election,” the GOP letter stated. “This duty should not be pushed to the corner as a result of the time constraints and competing priorities imposed by the impeachment proceedings.”

The members criticized Pelosi and other Democratic leaders for directing House Administration Committee Democrats to “focus on partisan election security legislation,” with the Republican members adding that “distractions such as this are not advancing the cause of passing a bipartisan election security bill.”

The attacks by the Republicans come after Democrats have repeatedly criticized the GOP for allowing three House-passed bills on election security to languish in the Senate. All three bills passed along party lines and originated in the House Administration Committee.

Democrats have ripped Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKey House and Senate health leaders reach deal to stop surprise medical bills Biden: 'No party should have too much power' Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows bold action to counter 'existential' climate threat | Trump jokes new light bulbs don't make him look as good | 'Forever chemicals' measure pulled from defense bill MORE (R-Ky.) for not allowing votes on the three measures. Senate Republicans argue the bills would infringe on First Amendment rights and have cited language in the bills not being completely focused on election security to explain their opposition.

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Republicans are now casting Democrats as focused on impeachment rather than legislation that would help the country. In their letter, the GOP members asked Pelosi to lend support to congressional hearings on how social media companies are preventing election interference, election preparations undertaken by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), cybersecurity preparedness of election machine vendors and oversight of the Federal Election Commission.

A spokesperson for Pelosi did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on the letter. 

But a Democratic committee aide pushed back, telling The Hill that “the Democratic House majority has taken decisive action to protect our elections from foreign interference,” citing the three bills already passed by the House in regard to election security.

The committee aide said that in “contrast” to Democrats, Republicans have “refused to act” to address election security concerns.

“Despite persistent admonitions from Trump Administration officials that election meddling operations by Russia were ongoing – House Republicans inexplicably refused to act,” the committee aide said. “The House Administration Committee Republicans, tasked with oversight of federal elections, failed to hold even a single hearing on election security and failed take up a single bill to bolster our nation’s elections infrastructure.”

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The House Administration Committee, led by Chairwoman Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenDemocrats express confidence in case as impeachment speeds forward Sunday shows — Nadler: A jury would convict Trump in 'three minutes flat' Judiciary Democrat says House should focus on Ukraine, avoid Mueller report in articles of impeachment MORE (D-Calif.), has held multiple related election security hearings, including one on oversight of the EAC in May and another on election security concerns that same month. Other House committees have also held hearings this year on voting technology vulnerabilities and on building partnerships to combat threats to elections.

Davis and the other committee Republicans have raised repeated concerns with the three bills approved by the House.

Davis said during an October floor speech prior to the vote on the Stopping Harmful Interference in Elections for a Lasting Democracy (SHIELD) Act that it had “zero chance” of becoming law. He and almost a dozen other Republicans introduced their version of legislation meant to combat foreign interference in elections the same week the House passed the SHIELD Act. 

The Republican members wrote on Monday that despite the lack of bipartisan agreement on election security bills, they hope to work with Democrats on the House Administration Committee to secure the elections next year. 

“It is our hope that we, along with Chairperson Lofgren, can work together to address these issues despite impeachment proceedings, but we have no time to waste as the 2020 election rapidly approaches,” the Republican members wrote.