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Dozens of progressive organizations call on Congress to fund vote-by-mail efforts

 

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

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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 TrumpClinton, Bush, Obama reflect on peaceful transition of power on Biden's Inauguration Day Arizona Republican's brothers say he is 'at least partially to blame' for Capitol violence Biden reverses Trump's freeze on .4 billion in funds 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 PelosiGOP operative installed as NSA top lawyer placed on administrative leave: reports Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Biden taps career civil servants to acting posts at State, USAID, UN MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerSchumer becomes new Senate majority leader US Chamber of Commerce to Biden, Congress: Business community 'ready to help' Why pretend senators can 'do impartial justice'? 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. 

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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 McCarthyBiden's inauguration marked by conflict of hope and fear Congressional leaders present Biden, Harris with flags flown during inauguration Biden urges Americans to join together in appeal for unity 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 KlobucharDemocrats swear in three senators to gain majority Congressional leaders present Biden, Harris with flags flown during inauguration LIVE INAUGURATION COVERAGE: Biden signs executive orders; press secretary holds first briefing MORE (Minn.) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWith a new president and a new Congress, it's time for Medicare drug price negotiation The Hill's Morning Report - President Biden, Vice President Harris begin work today Senate Democrats call on Biden to immediately invoke Defense Production Act 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 ObamaClinton, Bush, Obama reflect on peaceful transition of power on Biden's Inauguration Day Alpha Kappa Alpha declares Jan. 20 'Kamala D. Harris Day' to celebrate fellow member's 'historic moment' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Inauguration Day MORE threw her support behind on Monday. 

Klobuchar, Wyden, and Sen. Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsSenate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Romney calls for Senate to pass sanctions on Putin over Navalny poisoning Senate Democrats leery of nixing filibuster 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."