More than 50 progressive organizations signed an open letter Monday calling on Congress to appropriate $4 billion to states to boost mail-in voting efforts in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The groups — which were led by Stand Up America and included Greenpeace USA, Planned Parenthood, and the Sierra Club — strongly urged the leaders of the House and Senate to “immediately” pass legislation that includes funds for states to allow elections to go forward this year.
“Congress has an obligation to safeguard the integrity of our elections by setting national voting rights standards and providing state officials with urgent financial support so that they can institute these common-sense reforms while there is still time,” the groups wrote.
They advocated that Congress specifically give states funding to go toward giving every voter the option to vote by mail, extend in-person early voting, expand registration and educate voters about their voting options.
“None of us know how long this pandemic will last,” the groups emphasized. “Failing to provide states with this necessary funding puts the November election and the rights of every voter at risk.”
The coronavirus stimulus package signed into law by President TrumpDonald TrumpSix big off-year elections you might be missing Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' MORE last month included $400 million to help states put on elections this year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The legislation did not include any specific mandates for how states could spend the money and required states to match the funds by 20 percent, an issue some state officials have said could be difficult to accomplish.
Both House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDems look to keep tax on billionaires in spending bill Sunday shows - Democrats' spending plan in the spotlight Pelosi won't say if she'll run for reelection in 2022 MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerManchin meeting with Biden, Schumer in Delaware Progressives' optimism for large reforms dwindles Democratic frustration with Sinema rises MORE (D-N.Y.) have come out in favor of sending the states more funding and in favor of increasing mail-in voting in recent weeks. Pelosi originally proposed $4 billion in March for the last stimulus bill, but this amount was cut down.
Republicans have pushed back against vote by mail. President Trump tweeted last week that he was concerned voting by mail would hurt Republican chances in the elections, and that it could increase the chance for voter fraud.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyRepublican spin on Biden is off the mark Cheney reveals GOP's Banks claimed he was Jan. 6 panel's ranking member House votes to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress MORE (R-Calif.) slammed Democrats last week for trying to put mail-in voting funds in the next coronavirus stimulus bill. McCarthy accused Democrats of being “concerned about the wrong thing” in comparison to battling the COVID-19 disease.
But Democrats, led by Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharGOP blocks Senate Democrats' revised elections bill Progressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Biden holds meetings to resurrect his spending plan MORE (Minn.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenClimate advocates turn sights on Wall Street Democrats scramble to reach deal on taxes Pelosi open to scrapping key components in spending package MORE (Ore.), have continued to push for mail-in voting. Klobuchar and Wyden introduced a bill in March to expand voting access that former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaYouTube confirms it picked kids featured in Harris video Photos of the Week: Congressional Baseball Game, ashen trees and a beach horse The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Gears begin to shift in Congress on stalled Biden agenda MORE threw her support behind on Monday.
Klobuchar, Wyden, and Sen. Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsGlasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal Manchin threatens 'zero' spending in blowup with Sanders: reports Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals MORE (D-Del.) on Monday penned an op-ed in USA Today calling for states to get more funding for mail-in voting ahead of November.
“The next federal relief package must include sufficient funding and direction to states to expand vote by mail, early voting and online voter registration,” the senators wrote. “Republicans and Democrats should be able to work together to make this happen. The very integrity of our democracy requires that we get this right."