House Republican pushes for bipartisan cooperation on elections during coronavirus crisis

House Republican pushes for bipartisan cooperation on elections during coronavirus crisis
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Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump visits a ventilator plant in a battleground state The Hill to interview Mnuchin today and many other speakers 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 MORE (R-Ill.) on Monday pushed for bipartisan cooperation around providing states with the resources they need to put on elections during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as debate about moving to mail-in voting continues. 

Davis, who is the top Republican on the elections-focused House Administration Committee, sent a letter to committee Chairwoman Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill McCarthy urges Democrats to pull surveillance bill FISA 'reform': Groundhog Day edition MORE (D-Calif.) urging her to work with him on providing states with election resources.

Davis specifically outlined concerns listed in a separate letter from the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) sent to the House Administration Committee last week. NASS asked Lofgren and Davis to make changes to current election mandates to help states put on elections during the coronavirus pandemic. 

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“I write to request that we work together to address the concerns outlined by these election officials, and that we do not implement a federalized approach that will hinder states from successfully executing our elections,” Davis wrote to Lofgren. 

The NASS officials, led by NASS President and Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, took issue with language in the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill signed into law by President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally MORE last month that included $400 million in election funding for states.

The bill required that states match the federal funds by 20 percent and spend the money prior to the end of the year. It also required that states submit reports to Congress on how they spent their portions of the funds within 20 days of the general election in November. 

Both of these time constraints were issues the secretaries of state saw as problems, and they asked Lofgren and Davis to remedy them in the next coronavirus stimulus package that Congress is expected to take up later this month. 

“I hope you understand our concerns and will address them with your colleagues,” Pate wrote. “Resolving these matters immediately will help all Chief Election Officials to receive the money as soon as possible so we can make urgent changes, obtain necessary resources and further prepare for ongoing and upcoming elections.”

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Davis noted in his letter to Lofgren that he supported the idea of reexamining the mandate for states to match the congressional funds. Davis previously applauded the inclusion of a state match as part of separate election security funds given to states in December. 

While both Lofgren and Davis have been supportive of addressing election security, they have butted heads over how to do so. 

Lofgren helped spearhead the election funds in the House version of the coronavirus stimulus package in March, which would have sent states $4 billion and mandated that they use the funds for issues such as boosting mail-in and absentee voting.

Davis opposed the mandates in the House version, saying they federalized elections. 

The House Administration Committee has zeroed in on election issues over the past year, approving the three major election security and voting reform bills passed along party lines in the House in 2019. 

In recent weeks, Senate Democrats have pushed for $1.6 billion more to support elections to be included in the next coronavirus stimulus bill. But many Republicans have pushed back against doing so with mandates for mail-in voting, including President Trump, who cited concerns that it would hurt Republicans' chances in the general elections.