GOP Senators block election security bills despite ongoing interference by foreign powers

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and his fellow Republican block election security legislation despite former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s warning regarding ongoing interference by foreign powers such as Russia.

During a congressional hearing on Wednesday, Mueller reiterated his team’s findings that Russia committed an extensive and sweeping interference in the 2016 presidential election. He also warned that Moscow is again attempting to sabotage the U.S. election in 2020.

“Russian interference was not a single attempt. They’re doing it as we sit here and they expect to do it in the next campaign,” said Mueller to lawmakers.

On Thursday, Sen. McConnell opposed the advancement of two election security legislation, the Safe Act and the Duty to Report Act in the Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) requested consent to pass the Safe Act, which requires the use of paper ballots and includes funding for Election Assistance Commission. The House passed the measure with 225-184 votes (one Republican supported it).

Senators McConnell and Hyde-Smith accuse Democrats of trying to pass “partisan” election security bills

McConnell objected and argued that Democrats are asking unanimous consent to pass “partisan” legislation for “political benefit.”

“Clearly this request is not a serious effort to make a law. Clearly something so partisan that it only received one single solitary Republican vote in the House is not going to travel through the Senate by unanimous consent,” said McConnell.

McConnell also objected to Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s (D-Connecticut) request for consent to pass the Duty to Report Act, which requires candidates, campaign officials and their family members to inform the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) when they receive offers of assistance from foreign nationals. The bill also requires the disclosure of all meetings between candidates/campaign officials and foreign government agents.

On Wednesday, Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi) blocked Democrats request for consent to pass a trio of election security legislation including the Duty to Report Act, the Foreign Influence Reporting in Elections (FIRE) Act and the Senate Cybersecurity Protection Act.

Sen. Hyde-Smith did not provide any reason for her objections to the election security bills. However, in a tweet on Thursday, she echoed McConnell’s argument that Democrats were attempting to pass “partisan” legislation.

“Senate Democrats try to push partisan election bills without going through regular order right after the House hearings w/Mueller. Coincidence? Nope. Just more political theater instead of working together to secure US elections,” she wrote.

The FIRE Act requires a campaign to report to the FBI and FEC any attempt of contact by foreign nationals offering information or services.

The Senate Cybersecurity Protection Act allows the Sergeant at Arms to provide opt-in, voluntary assistance to Senators and certain Senate staff to secure their personal interconnected accounts and devices such as  cellphones, desktops, laptops, tablets, e-mails, etc.