07.24.18

Leahy, Senate Democrats File Amendment To Bolster Election Security Ahead Of 2018 Midterms

Senate Democrats, led by Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tuesday filed an amendment to bolster election security against Russian attacks and other hostile foreign powers ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.  The amendment would provide $250 million for State Election Security Grants.

Leahy said: “If you believe that Russia is fully intent on destabilizing our democracy yet again in November – as all of our national security and law enforcement officials do – then this amendment is a necessary step toward taking action to protect our democracy.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said:  “Protecting our democracy from foreign interference will require modernizing our election systems and building new safeguards to combat cyber-attacks. We are only 105 days away from the next federal election and our state and local election officials – the people on the front lines of this fight– do not have the resources they need. If we are asking them to defend our nation against foreign attacks then Congress has a responsibility to make sure they’re prepared to do it, that includes this additional funding.”

Senator Chris Coons (D-Conn.) said: “This isn’t a partisan issue. This is about protecting all Americans – Democrats, Republicans, and Independents – who want to know that their votes are counted and that their elections are conducted fairly.  We know that our democracy was attacked in 2016 and we know that more attacks are coming in 2018 and 2020.  Congress can’t stay on the sidelines. We need to help states ensure that they can protect our elections and protect our democracy.”

After the Intelligence Community’s unanimous assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, Congress came together and appropriated $380 million dollars for State Election Security Grants in the fiscal year 2018 Omnibus.  Since that time, all 55 eligible states and territories have requested funding, 100 percent of these funds have been committed to the states, and, as of July 23, 90 percent of the funds have been disbursed to the states – only four months after the Omnibus Appropriations Act was signed into law.

This crucial funding has assisted states in improving election cybersecurity and replacing outdated election equipment.  This week, 21 state attorneys general urged Congress in a letter to provide more funding to help states meet election security needs.   

The amendment, offered by Leahy, Klobuchar and Coons and Senators Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to the Senate Interior and Financial Services and General Government “Minibus” Appropriations bill, comes on the heels of Republicans blocking a similar funding proposal on the House Floor last week.

Leahy previously offered the amendment in the Senate Appropriations Committee, where it was blocked on a party line vote.  Leahy’s full statement can be found HERE.

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