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 KlobucharPoll: Biden leads Trump by 5 points in Minnesota The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US death toll nears 100,000 as country grapples with reopening It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (Minn.) and Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsCongress must fill the leadership void Congress headed toward unemployment showdown Trump declines to say if he's 'standing by' nominee under investigation 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 McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Americans debate life under COVID-19 risks The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Democratic leaders say Trump testing strategy is 'to deny the truth' about lack of supplies MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocratic leaders say Trump testing strategy is 'to deny the truth' about lack of supplies Trump slams Sessions: 'You had no courage & ruined many lives' Senate Democrats call on Trump administration to let Planned Parenthood centers keep PPP loans MORE (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBottom line This week: Surveillance fight sets early test for House's proxy voting Women suffering steeper job losses in COVID-19 economy MORE (D-Calif.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy yanks endorsement of California candidate over social media posts Trump, GOP go all-in on anti-China strategy The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Mnuchin: More COVID-19 congressional action ahead 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 DelBeneHillicon Valley: Trump threatens Michigan, Nevada over mail-in voting | Officials call for broadband expansion during pandemic | Democrats call for investigation into Uber-Grubhub deal The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga says supporting small business single most important thing we should do now; Teva's Brendan O'Grady says U.S. should stockpile strategic reserve in drugs like Strategic Oil Reserve FCC commissioner, House Democrat call for expanding broadband access during pandemic MORE (Wash.), Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerPass the Primary Care Enhancement Act Democrats introduce bill to include cannabis businesses in coronavirus relief Michelle Obama to promote absentee voting MORE (Ore.), and Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes Merger moratorium takes center stage in antitrust debate Democrats lobby Biden on VP choice 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.”