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. 

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 Trump 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 Pelosi (D-Calif.) has consistently supported vote-by-mail funding, along with political figures including former first lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). 

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 Klobuchar (Minn.), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Christopher Coons (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 McConnell 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.”

Tags Amy Klobuchar Chris Coons Christopher Coons Coronavirus coronavirus stimulus Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Michelle Obama Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Ron Wyden

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