Senators urge Congress to include election funds in coronavirus stimulus

Senators urge Congress to include election funds in coronavirus stimulus
© Greg Nash

Democratic Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharOvernight Health Care: CDC advises vaccinated to wear masks in high-risk areas | Biden admin considering vaccine mandate for federal workers Four senators call on Becerra to back importation of prescription drugs from Canada Biden signals tough stance on tech with antitrust picks MORE (Minn.) and Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsBottom line Kavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law Key Biden ally OK with dropping transit from infrastructure package MORE (Del.) urged the leaders of the House and Senate on Friday to include election security funding in an upcoming coronavirus funding package. 

“As Congress prepares additional legislation to protect the American people from COVID-19 and provide financial relief, we also must protect our elections,” Klobuchar and Coons wrote in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance Five takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony McCarthy, McConnell say they didn't watch Jan. 6 hearing MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck Schumer84 mayors call for immigration to be included in reconciliation Senate infrastructure talks on shaky grounds Could Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? MORE (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance McCarthy pulls GOP picks off House economic panel GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger MORE (D-Calif.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse to resume mask mandate after new CDC guidance McCarthy pulls GOP picks off House economic panel GOP up in arms over Cheney, Kinzinger MORE (R-Calif.). 

“Americans are facing unprecedented disruptions to their daily lives, and we need to make sure that in the midst of this pandemic people do not lose their ability to vote,” the senators emphasized. 

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Klobuchar, the lead Democrat on the elections-focused Senate Rules Committee, and Coons highlighted a report released by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice that called on Congress to appropriate around $2 billion to states to allow the November elections to go forward following the coronavirus pandemic. 

The senators noted that this amount would be around 0.2 percent of the more than $1 trillion supplemental appropriations package that Congress is considering to provide aid to Americans and businesses in the midst of the national crisis caused by the spread of coronavirus. 

The money would be used to fund printing mail-in ballots, purchasing cleaning supplies for polling sites, and recruiting and training election workers. 

Klobuchar and Coons, along with over a dozen other Senate Democrats, introduced a bill earlier this week to allow for Americans to have access to mail-in ballots and boost absentee voting, along with other measures designed to allow the November elections to go forward.

A companion House bill was introduced earlier this month by Democratic Reps. Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneBiden's keeping the Canada-US border closed makes no sense Biden administration stokes frustration over Canada Reducing compliance burdens for the beauty industry MORE (Wash.), Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerLawmakers spend more on personal security in wake of insurrection On The Money: Schumer pressured from all sides on spending strategy | GOP hammers HUD chief over sluggish rental aid | Democrat proposes taxes on commercial space flights Hillicon Valley: Biden to appoint Big Tech critic to DOJ antitrust role | House passes host of bills to strengthen cybersecurity in wake of attacks | Bezos returns from flight to space MORE (Ore.), and Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinFive takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony Police officer repeatedly calls Jan. 6 rioters 'terrorists'  Live coverage: House panel holds first hearing on Jan. 6 probe MORE (Md.).

The senators cited this bill in pointing to concerns over recent primaries that saw lower in-person turnouts in Florida, Illinois and Arizona in citing the need to move quickly to provide states with funding to shift elections to allow all Americans to vote without fear of catching the coronavirus. 

“Protecting the right to vote is critical – and we can’t let this crisis stop Americans from being heard at the ballot box,” the senators wrote. “Americans cast ballots during the Civil War and after September 11, 2001. No matter the magnitude of the threat facing our country, the most fundamental part of our democracy – our elections – must go on.”