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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 TrumpTrump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says Putin says he's optimistic about working with Biden ahead of planned meeting Biden meets Queen Elizabeth for first time as president 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 PelosiVaccinated lawmakers no longer required to wear masks on House floor Simmering Democratic tensions show signs of boiling over Pelosi signals no further action against Omar MORE (D-Calif.) has consistently supported vote-by-mail funding, along with political figures including former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaJill Biden, Kate Middleton to meet this week Jill Biden to focus on military families on foreign trip Book claims Trump believed Democrats would replace Biden with Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama in 2020 election MORE and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenMark Cuban: ProPublica 'not being honest' about taxes on wealthy On The Money: Bipartisan Senate group rules out tax hikes on infrastructure | New report reignites push for wealth tax New report reignites push for wealth tax 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 unveils antitrust package to rein in tech giants Democrats reintroduce bill to create 'millionaires surtax' Senate Democrats befuddled by Joe Manchin MORE (Minn.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain Senate panel advances nominations for key Treasury positions Overnight Health Care: US to donate 500 million Pfizer doses to other countries: reports | GOP's attacks on Fauci at center of pandemic message | Federal appeals court blocks Missouri abortion ban MORE (Ore.) and Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsOvernight Defense: Pentagon details military construction projects getting .2B restored from wall funds | Biden chooses former commander to lead Navy | Bill seeks to boost visa program for Afghans who helped US Bipartisan senators introduce bill to protect small businesses from cyberattacks China conducts amphibious landing drill near Taiwan after senators' visit 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 McConnellWhy the Democrats need Joe Manchin Out-of-touch Democrats running scared of progressives The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Bipartisan group reaches infrastructure deal; many questions remain 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.”