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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 KlobucharSenators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial Sunday shows - Biden agenda, Trump impeachment trial dominate Klobuchar says Senate impeachment trial of former official is constitutional: 'We have precedent' MORE (Minn.) and Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDemocrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts Senators introduce bill to award Officer Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal Senate chaos threatens to slow Biden's agenda 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 McConnellBiden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop Harry Reid 'not particularly optimistic' Biden will push to eliminate filibuster Senators spar over validity of Trump impeachment trial MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerCapitol insurrection fallout: A PATRIOT Act 2.0? Schumer calls for DOJ watchdog to probe alleged Trump effort to oust acting AG Student loan forgiveness would be windfall for dentists, doctors and lawyers MORE (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop More hands needed on the nuclear football Sunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus MORE (D-Calif.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyBiden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop House GOP leader says he has 'concerns' over Cheney's impeachment vote McCarthy says he told Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene he disagreed with her impeachment articles against Biden 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 DelBeneDemocrats eye bill providing permanent benefits of at least K per child Washington state neighbors underscore internal Democratic tensions Lawmakers, officials stress need to expand broadband access MORE (Wash.), Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerInauguration parties lose the glitz and glamour in 2021 Four things Democrats should do in Biden's first 100 days House Republican wants restrictions on masks with messages MORE (Ore.), and Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinInauguration parties lose the glitz and glamour in 2021 This week: Tensions running high in Trump's final days Democratic lawmaker says 'assassination party' hunted for Pelosi during riot 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.”