House Democrats include $3.6 billion for mail-in voting in new stimulus bill

House Democrats include $3.6 billion for mail-in voting in new stimulus bill
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House Democrats have included $3.6 billion in election funding as part of the $3 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill they rolled out on Tuesday.

The funding is meant to assist states in addressing new challenges posed by holding elections during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as expanding mail-in and early in-person voting.

At least 50 percent of the funds would be required to go to local governments to help administer elections, and states would have until late next year to access the funds. 

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The House is expected to vote on the stimulus package on Friday, but the outlook for the election funds passing in the GOP-led Senate remains unclear.

Senate Republicans have broadly pushed back on calls to immediately approve more stimulus money, saying lawmakers should weigh the impact of the trillions in spending already approved by Congress.

The coronavirus stimulus package signed into law by President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE in March included $400 million for elections. Democrats have pushed for a total of $4 billion to be allocated for elections, with the addition of the new funds proposed Tuesday totaling to this amount. 

State officials on both sides of the aisle have supported Congress sending more election funds in recent months, as states increasingly face the threat of bankruptcy from the coronavirus crisis.

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHillicon Valley: Trump backs potential Microsoft, TikTok deal, sets September deadline | House Republicans request classified TikTok briefing | Facebook labels manipulated Pelosi video Trump says he's considering executive action to suspend evictions, payroll tax Trump won't say if he disagrees with Birx that virus is widespread MORE (D-Calif.) has consistently supported vote-by-mail funding, along with political figures including former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaObamas discuss pandemic, voting, anxiety and community in new podcast The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Brawls on Capitol Hill on Barr and COVID-19 The Obamas' production company fetches 7 Emmy nominations MORE and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCuba spells trouble for Bass's VP hopes Democrats want Biden to debate Trump despite risks Overnight Defense: Embattled Pentagon policy nominee withdraws, gets appointment to deputy policy job | Marines, sailor killed in California training accident identified | Governors call for extension of funding for Guard's coronavirus response MORE (D-Mass.). 

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President Trump and other Republicans leaders have by contrast expressed concerns that mail-in voting could lead to voter fraud and could hurt Republican election chances. 

Democratic Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHouse committee requests hearing with postmaster general amid mail-in voting concerns Biden should pick the best person for the job — not the best woman Senators press Postal Service over complaints of slow delivery MORE (Minn.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenFrustration builds as negotiators struggle to reach COVID-19 deal On The Money: Unemployment benefits to expire as coronavirus talks deadlock | Meadows, Pelosi trade criticism on stalled stimulus talks | Coronavirus recession hits Social Security, Medicare, highway funding Unemployment benefits to expire as coronavirus talks deadlock MORE (Ore.) and Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsCoronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Thomas Isett Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Dr. Kate Broderick Making vulnerable children a priority in the pandemic response MORE (Del.) have led the charge in the Senate for more funding, with Klobuchar and Wyden also introducing a bill to promote election changes that would make it easier for Americans to vote during the pandemic.

Political action groups including Stand Up America have also pushed for mail-in voting funds. Stand Up America Founder and President Sean Eldridge applauded the inclusion of the $3.6 billion. 

“We applaud House Democrats for fighting to protect our democracy and working to provide states the critical resources they need to expand mail-in voting and make in-person voting safer,” Eldridge told The Hill in a statement. “Now the question is whether [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellProfessional sports players associations come out against coronavirus liability protections Democratic leaders report 'some progress' in talks with White House Top GOP senator urges agencies to protect renters, banks amid coronavirus aid negotiations MORE and Senate Republicans will attempt to suppress the vote in the middle of a pandemic by refusing to give states the election assistance that they need.”