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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 TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts 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 PelosiBiden backs 0B compromise coronavirus stimulus bill US records over 14 million coronavirus cases On The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser MORE (D-Calif.) has consistently supported vote-by-mail funding, along with political figures including former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaObama says he leans on daughters to create year-end playlists An immigrant to get the job done at Homeland Security Obama: 'Hopeless' to try to sell as many books as Michelle MORE and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSchwarzenegger says he would 'absolutely' help Biden administration Disney chair says he would consider job in Biden administration if asked Despite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill 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 KlobucharSenate committee approves nominations of three FEC commissioners Scammers step up efforts to target older Americans during pandemic Hillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk MORE (Minn.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Government used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 | Defense bill leaves out Section 230 repeal, includes White House cyber czar position | Officials warn hackers are targeting vaccine supply chain Government used Patriot Act to gather website visitor logs in 2019 Despite veto threat, Congress presses ahead on defense bill MORE (Ore.) and Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms Overnight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases Bipartisan Senate group holding coronavirus relief talks amid stalemate 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 McConnellBiden backs 0B compromise coronavirus stimulus bill US records over 14 million coronavirus cases On The Money: COVID-19 relief picks up steam as McConnell, Pelosi hold talks | Slowing job growth raises fears of double-dip recession | Biden officially announces Brian Deese as top economic adviser 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.”