Bill Would Have Imposed Sanctions On Russia If American Intelligence Officials Determined They Were Meddling
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A bipartisan election security bill aimed at warning Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election has been blocked by Republicans in the Senate, the third time such a bill has been blocked this year.
The bill would have established a trip wire should US intelligence agencies determine that Russia was attempting to meddle in the election, with targeted sanctions of the country’s finance, defence and energy sectors within 30 days.
But, while the measure was the product of a bipartisan partnership of Democrat Chris Van Hollen and Republican Marco Rubio, it was ultimately killed by a single Republican senator, Idaho’s Mike Crapo.
“The mechanisms in this bill have been designed more to attack the Trump administration and Republicans than attack the Russians, and those who would attack our country and our elections,” Mr Crapo said.
Mr Crapo also argued that Mr Trump, who has been accused of having welcomed election meddling by Russians during the 2016 election, had “probably put more sanctions on the Russians than any president in our history.”
House Gop Refuses To Renew Election Security Funding As Democrats Fume Over Russian Interference
House Republicans on Thursday voted down a Democratic effort to increase election security spending, as Democrats accused the GOP of refusing to stand up to Russia over interference in U.S. elections.
In a vote along party lines, Republicans rejected Democrats’ motion for more funding, unmoved by Democrats’ vigorous pleas and chants of “USA! USA!” on the House floor.
The election security funding vote came amid a national controversy over Russian election interference, and it comes days after President Trump appeared to accept Russian President Vladimir Putin’s contention that Russia did not intervene in the 2016 presidential race — even though U.S. intelligence agencies say otherwise.
“Now is the time to double down on our efforts to prevent election hacking,” Rep. Mike Quigley declared ahead of the vote. “The American people are watching, and we must ensure that we — unlike our president — are on the right side of history at this pivotal moment in our democracy.”
Republicans dismissed the Democrats’ effort as theatrics, contending that Congress had fully funded states’ election security needs over the years and that states still have plenty of grant money left to spend from a $380 million allocation for 2018.
“Over the past decade you’ve seen billions of dollars funded, by Republicans and Democrats, in our bipartisan appropriations each year to do exactly that, secure elections here at home,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said.
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The reader may feel by now that they are bursting to say that all this has to do with the attitude of Trump and his supporters, namely, that they do not want to cast those resisting the insurrection as valued heroes. But it is interesting that the fights over this spending largely avoids being being bluntly cast explicitly as “for” or “against” branding the action as horrendous. That tone is there, but not just tough words. One may doubt that the issue is far from the thinking or calculations of the Congressmen thinking about the appropriation, but the exchanges are carried out in a verbal code fitting the appropriation world.
Senator Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, finally proposed a supplemental appropriation bill smaller than the Democrats in the House or Senate. It does provide money for the Capitol Police salaries. However, it allocated far less funding to the Architect of the Capitol, and none for the National Park Service. Apparently, Senate Republicans are proposing to release the funding being withheld for the Capitol Police, but only in return for dropping the projects to harden the security of the Capitol.
Senator Shelby said “We should pass now what we all agree on: the Capitol Police and National Guard are running out of money, the clock is ticking, and we need to take care of them.” He indicated that projects to defend the Capitol were in a lesser category.
Amendment Would Have Funded Cybersecurity Efforts And Replaced Outdated Election Equipment
A voter casts a ballot at a voting machine in North Las Vegas, Nev., on Nov. 8, 2016. Last week, 21 state attorneys general sent a letter to Congress asking for more money for the Election Assistance Commission “to support election security improvements.”
WASHINGTON—Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a Democratic effort to increase spending on election security measures, saying they wanted to see what states do with grants they have already been provided.
The amendment, which would have appropriated $250 million for grants to states through the federal Election Assistance Commission, garnered 50 in favor to 47 opposed, largely on party lines and shy of the 60 needed to pass. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker was the only Republican to vote in support of the amendment.
“A lot of the states want this kind of help to make sure their systems are not going to be hacked,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono “The Republicans are not standing in line to help them, which I think is a real testament to what they think about protecting our democracy.”
Opponents of the amendment said they want to see how the states spend the 2018 grant money before they appropriate more. Sending money to states “would just be another step maybe towards convincing the states that somebody besides them is going to be responsible for elections in their state,” said Sen. Roy Blunt , chairman of the Senate Rules Committee. “That shouldn’t be the case, it won’t be the case.”
How Congressional Republicans Maneuver Against Funding The Capitol Police For January 6
A highly complex series of maneuvers is occurring in the Congress about the little-known “legislative branch appropriation” which funds operations on Capitol Hill, including the Capitol Police. The issues come from the January 6 insurrection. Congressional Republicans are attempting to hold hostage vital funding for the Capitol Police, by resisting supplemental funds relating to that day. Congressional Democrats are trying to free up the vitally needed funds to pay the overtime for the police, as well as other funds for hardening the Capitol site against the new attacks. Right now the funding situation is perilous for the Capitol Police.
The situation starts with the Congress passing its spending bill last year to pay for the entire Capitol complex, including the Capitol Police and a projection of their expected overtime. As it was dryly put, Congress did not budget for the January 6 insurrection. Who knew? Everything spent on dealing with that insurrection went beyond budgeted-for projections.
As the Senate Appropriations Chair, Patrick Leahy , said Friday, July 9, “without action the Capitol Police will go without payment for the hours of overtime they have incurred, without proper equipment, and without sufficient mental health services to deal with the continued trauma from that day.” This is not off in the distance. House appropriators noted that the salaries account for the Capitol Police would be exhausted in August.
Republicans Signal They’re Willing To Pay Up To Avoid An Election Day Disaster
Sen. Roy Blunt said he was “prepared to look at more money for the states to use for elections this year.” But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that such requests are a non-starter. Patrick Semansky/APhide caption
Sen. Roy Blunt said he was “prepared to look at more money for the states to use for elections this year.” But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that such requests are a non-starter.
Ever since the pandemic struck, state and local election officials across the country have made it clear: To avoid an election disaster in November, they need more money now.
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Still, it was difficult to find a single Democratic supporter on Monday, even among the most moderate members. That suggests the minority party is comfortable with the politics of blocking the Zika bill, particularly since the White House is threatening a veto, anyway. Sen. Joe Manchin said he is “skeptical” of the funding apparatus and Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, who also runs the Democrats’ campaign arm, said he probably could not support the legislation.
“I don’t know why anyone would vote for it,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said in a brief interview. “Look at what they gave us. How about the Confederate flag thing? Is that about the clincher.”
The failed vote will have special political and practical resonance in Florida, the presidential battleground state and site of a competitive Senate race this fall, as well as home to hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans. As Puerto Ricans have fled the island for the sunnier economic outlook in Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio went so far as to join Democrats pushing for $1.9 billion requested by Obama to fight the disease.
He’ll vote for the compromise Tuesday — but did not hide his irritation with the impasse.
“I wanted it to happen two months ago. I’m not pleased,” he said.
Seung Min Kim contributed to this report.
Congress Has Approved $425m For Election Security Not Enough Say Democrats
The money set aside for US election security represents the biggest fund to protect elections in a decade. But the $425 million approved by Congress is still not enough to satisfy critics who have been pushing for more cash and new federal election security standards.
Thanks, let’s keep going: “This is a welcome development after months of pressure, but this money is no substitute for a permanent funding mechanism for securing and maintaining elections systems, and comprehensive legislation to protect our elections, which the White House and Republican leaders in Congress have been blocking for two years now,” said Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat.
Election security defeats: Multiple election security bills have been voted down in the Republican-controlled Senate this year after being passed in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
The Election Security Act, for instance, would give states $1 billion in security funding and would require paper backup ballots, which experts say offer the only way votes can be credibly audited. The DETER Act would require US intelligence agencies to report on election interference after every federal election. And the SAFE Act mandated security safeguards and put more money toward upgrading election systems, including $600 million in the first year. So far Republicans in the Senate have blocked each effort, downplaying the threats and saying states should take the lead instead of the federal government.
Mcconnell Blocks 2 Bills On Election Security On Heels Of Mueller Warnings
Sen. Chuck Schumer accused Republicans of “putting their heads in the sand.”
New evidence on Russian interference in 2016 election
One day after former special counsel Robert Mueller issued a stark warning that the Russians are actively seeking to interfere once again in the U.S. elections and called for aggressive deterrence measures, Senate Democrats sought passage of multiple election security bills only to be stopped by Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for a second time this week.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., accused Republicans of “putting their heads in the sand.”
“Mueller’s testimony was a clarion call for election security,” Schumer said. “Mueller’s testimony should be a wake-up call to every American, Democrat, Republican, Liberal, Conservative, that the integrity of our elections is at stake.”
Mueller told House members Wednesday, at a high-profile hearing delving into the special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election that the Putin-led government is still at it.
“It wasn’t a single attempt. They are doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it in the next campaign,” Mueller said Wednesday.
When asked about this warning, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, agreed but he signaled that the federal government had success in stopping foreign interference in 2018.
But the Kentucky Republican, who is running for a fifth term in 2020, has shut down nearly every effort to bring election security to the Senate floor.
But McConnell objected.
After Resisting Mcconnell And Senate Gop Back Election Security Funding
- Sept. 19, 2019
WASHINGTON — Facing mounting criticism for blocking proposals to bolster election security, Senator Mitch McConnell on Thursday threw his weight behind a new infusion of $250 million to help states guard against outside interference in the 2020 voting.
Mr. McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has been under regular attack from both Democrats and a conservative group for refusing to allow the Senate to vote on various election security proposals, some of them bipartisan, despite dire warnings from the intelligence community that Russia is already trying to replicate the elaborate meddling campaign it carried out during the 2016 presidential contest.
The additional funding, Mr. McConnell said in announcing his support, “will bring our total allocation for election security — listen to this — to more than $600 million since fiscal 2018.” The money was quickly approved by the Appropriations Committee later Thursday.
Though Mr. McConnell has embraced other seemingly derogatory nicknames over the years, he was incensed at being called “Moscow Mitch” by those who claimed his opposition showed he was willing to accept foreign election interference because it had benefited his own party by helping to elect President Trump, despite the senator’s long record of taking a hard line against Russia.
Other members of the panel hailed it as a potential breakthrough that could lead to more election security measures being advanced by Congress.
Mcconnell Changes Position And Backs $250 Million For Election Security
WASHINGTON — In a surprise development, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his support Thursday for additional money to bolster the country’s election system ahead of the 2020 vote, a move that counters his earlier position resisting calls for more funding.
McConnell, R-Ky., said he is co-sponsoring an amendment to an appropriations bill that would provide $250 million for election security.
“I’m proud the Financial Services & General Government bill will include a bipartisan amendment providing another $250 million for the administration and security of their elections, to help states improve their defenses and shore up their voting systems,” McConnell said. “I am proud to have helped develop this amendment and to co-sponsor it in committee.”
McConnell’s backing comes after Democrats have been putting political pressure on him and Republicans for more than a year to get behind additional provisions, including new funding, to protect against hacking and interference in the elections.
“This morning, after months and months and months of Republican resistance, and months of insistent Democratic pressure, Senate Republicans have finally agreed to support our Democratic request for additional election security funding in advance of the 2020 elections,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor.
Republicans pointed to an election briefing by intelligence officials in July as the reason that more money wasn’t necessary.
Republicans Block Election Security Efforts Despite Mueller’s Warnings
Senators stand in way of multiple bills within 24 hours of former special counsel’s testimony on Russian threat
Last modified on Tue 15 Dec 2020 14.35 GMT
Senate Republicans have twice blocked legislation aimed at strengthening US election security in the 24 hours since the former special counsel Robert Mueller warned that Russian election interference was happening “as we sit here”.
Since Mueller left the witness stand on Wednesday, Republican senators have blocked a House-backed bill and a separate trio of bills meant to beef up US election security.
The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, accused Republicans of having “buried commonsense election security bills in their legislative graveyard”. He pledged to keep putting forward requests to vote on legislation, including a House-passed bill that would authorize $775m in grants over the next two years to help states secure their voting systems.
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, however, criticized the House bill as “so partisan it received just one Republican vote over in the House”, asserting that any election security proposal must be bipartisan.
During his Wednesday testimony, Mueller, speaking of findings from his team’s investigation into Russian meddling, emphasized the issue was not limited to the 2016 election. “It wasn’t a single attempt. They’re doing it as we sit here,” Mueller said. “And they expect to do it during the next campaign.”
Senate Republicans Block Democrats’ Voting Rights Bill From Advancing
June 22, 2021 / 7:08 PM / CBS News
GOP senators block sweeping voting rights bil…02:03
Washington —Republicans on Tuesday blocked a procedural vote to advance a sweeping voting reforms bill in the Senate, sinking Democrats’ attempt to begin debate on their landmark legislation overhauling the nation’s election laws.
With a 50-50 vote, the effort, which garnered last-minute backing from Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, fell far short of the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. All Republicans oppose the voting rights bill and voted against taking up the legislation, which is Democrats’ answer to restrictive voting measures enacted in GOP-led states following the 2020 presidential election.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who is leading the Biden administration’s efforts on voting rights, presided over the vote. After the vote, she told reporters “the fight is not over.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made similar comments, saying that “this vote, I’m ashamed to say, is further evidence that voter suppression has become part of the official platform of the Republican Party.”
The Senate’s failure to advance the bill is likely to further fuel calls from progressive Democrats to do away with the filibuster rule, which requires 60 votes to advance most legislation.
Ahead of the vote, Schumer reiterated the effort was to open debate on voting rights legislation, saying “protecting voting rights is worthy of debate. This is what this next vote is about.”
Gop Rep Paul Gosar Introduces Amendment To Defund The Capitol Police
Rep. Paul Gosar wants to block funding to the officers who protected the Capitol against rioters on Jan. 6.
One of the GOP lawmakers trying to downplay the violent and deadly insurrection by supporters of Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 has introduced an amendment to a legislative funding bill that would defund the Capitol Police.
The amendment filed by Rep. Paul Gosar would block any funds to the Capitol Police “until security footage of the United States Capitol from January 1 through 6, 2021, is released to the public.”
Gosar’s amendment continues his protest of what his colleague Louie Gohmert the “harassment and persecution” of the insurrectionists who violently broke into the Capitol, injuring 140 law enforcement officers in the process, in an effort to block the transfer of power from former President Donald Trump to Joe Biden.
On Tuesday, Gosar and three other GOP lawmakers held a news conference at the Department of Justice to protest the “treatment” of the people arrested and charged for their actions on Jan. 6. The news conference, held by Gosar and Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene , Matt Gaetz , and Gohmert , did not go well: Protesters disrupted it with whistles and chants, leading a staff member to end it early.
Gosar has also led the charge to turn Ashli Babbitt, a woman who was shot to death as she attempted to break onto the House floor on Jan. 6 while members of Congress were being evacuated, into a martyr.
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Similarly, the executive director of Kentucky’s state board of elections testified that the state had already spent the majority of money Congress allocated in March just on the state’s primary in late June.
“We can’t afford not to get the money ,” said Wendy Weiser, who directs the Democracy Program at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice. “The consequences would be so dire. It would be so devastating, not just to our election, but to America’s standing in the world overall.”
Democrats in Congress have supported a massive influx of elections funding virtually since the onset of the pandemic to help the country adjust to voting during a national emergency. The Brennan Center estimated the total cost of such adjustments to be $4 billion, which is how much was allocated in a proposal that passed the Democratic-controlled House in May.
What’s unclear now is how much Senate Republicans are actually willing to approve as part of the next relief package that Congress is expected to begin negotiating later this month.
After the CARES Act was passed in March, “there was a time it looked like more funding would be off the table,” Weiser said.
But, she added, it’s only become more apparent since, after a number of primaries saw huge lines and bungled mail-in voting expansions, why the funding is necessary.
While President Trump has made a series of false claims in an effort to discredit voting by mail, many state and congressional Republicans support efforts to expand it.
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Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency within DHS, said at the time of the McConnell compromise earlier this year that it was “a good start” — but he also said local and state officials need a regular flow of support, not occasional lump sums.
“The thing they want is consistency, something they can set their budget clocks to,” said Krebs. “If the federal government is going to play in this space, we have to be dependable partners.”
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Bailey testified Wednesday as part of an Election Assistance Commission hearing about the 2020 primaries. She said Georgia’s June 9 primary cost about 60% more than a normal election would have in her jurisdiction, because of adjustments made as a result of the pandemic.
“We had about a 35% turnout rate in our jurisdiction in this past election, and we know that in November that number will likely double,” Bailey said. “We can only expect therefore that our budget will likely double over what we spent this time, if not more.”
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Health officials don’t know exactly how strong the link is between Zika and microcephaly, but studies indicate up to a 13 percent chance that a woman infected with Zika can give birth to a baby with the severe birth defect. Already, there are 265 pregnant women in the continental United States with the virus; all of them got the virus while in other countries or through sex with a man who had it.
Given those dire statistics, the lack of congressional action is alarming, said Cindy Pellegrini, a lobbyist for March of Dimes, which advocates for maternal and fetal health. She said the GOP’s bill was “doomed from the start.”
“We have a hard time imagining an issue that could be more of an emergency than an infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes that destroys babies’ brains in utero,” Pellegrini said. “The package looked like it was not designed to be successful and that was deeply troubling for us.”
The impasse began in the House. Democrats held the floor for more than a day last week to advocate for more gun control legislation. Eager to end what he deemed a “publicity stunt,” House Speaker Paul Ryan moved to pass Zika legislation in the middle of the night last week and recess the House until after July 4, leaving Democrats who had withdrawn from the bicameral negotiations with a bill they say they could not support.
“It’s really bad politics for them,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the GOP’s No. 3 leader. “It’s going to be hard to defend.”
Senate Republicans Shoot Down Extra Funds For Election Security
Senate Republicans voted down a bid Wednesday to direct an extra $250 million toward election security in advance of the 2018 midterms, despite heightened warnings from intelligence officials that foreign governments will try to interfere in the contests and evidence that some lawmakers have already been targeted.
The 50 to 47 vote fell far short of the needed 60 votes to include the $250 million amendment, proposed by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy , in an appropriations package that the Senate was set to approve Wednesday. Only one Republican senator — Sen. Bob Corker , who frequently prioritizes deficit concerns — voted for the additional funds.
Three other Republicans did not vote: Sens. Richard Burr , who chairs the Intelligence Committee, Jeff Flake who is traveling in Africa, and John McCain , who is in Arizona receiving treatment for a serious form of brain cancer. All four of those Republicans have been critical of President Trump’s refusal to prioritize a more robust response to resist foreign government interference in future election cycles.
The Senate vote comes just one day after Facebook revealed that it had uncovered a complex disinformation operation geared toward the midterm elections, at least some of which appears to be directed by known Russian government-sponsored operatives.
Facebook says it has uncovered a coordinated disinformation operation ahead of the 2018 midterm elections
Congress To Approve $425 Million For Election Security Upgrades
Congress will approve a total of $425 million in election security funding, according to two sources familiar with the deal.
The money, which comes in the appropriations bill set to be released Monday, is a compromise: significantly higher than the $250 million Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had initially backed in September, but far below the more than $1 billion that the Democrat-controlled House had passed in HR 1 in March.
It’s the biggest influx of cash to bolster US election infrastructure since the 2016 election, which prompted a gradual national consensus that voting machines that don’t use paper ballots or receipts – and thus can’t be independently verified with an audit – are outdated. Congress also passed $380 million for election security in the appropriations bill of 2018.
Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner praised the existence of the funding, but echoed election security experts in arguing that states should get a promise of regular annual funding to better plan their security strategy.
“This is a welcome development after months of pressure, but this money is no substitute for a permanent funding mechanism for securing and maintaining elections systems, and comprehensive legislation to protect our elections, which the White House and Republican leaders in Congress have been blocking for two years now,” Warner told CNN.
Gop Sen Marsha Blackburn Blocks Three Election Security Bills
Sen. Marsha Blackburn on Tuesday blocked an attempt by Sen. Mark Warner to pass three election security-related bills via “unanimous consent,” calling them a “federal power grab.”
Why it matters: Just last week, the third volume of a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report found that the U.S. government was “not well-postured” to counter Russian interference in 2016. The Democratic-controlled House passed several election security bills last year, but none have been taken up by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell .
The big picture: Intelligence officials have continued to sound the alarm about the threat of foreign interference in future elections, with FBI director Christopher Wray warning last week that Russia continues to be engaged in “information warfare” ahead of the 2020 elections.
Details: Two of the bills proposed by Senate Democrats Tuesday would require campaigns to call the FBI if they’re offered help from a foreign power.
- Another bill would provide funding for the Election Assistance Commission and would ban voting machines from being connected to the internet.
What they’re saying:” are attempting to bypass this body’s Rules Committee on behalf of various bills that will seize control over elections from the states and take it from the states and where do they want to put it?” Blackburn said. “They want it to rest in the hands of Washington, D.C., bureaucrats.”
Republicans Again Block Election Security Bills In The Senate
July 25 — Despite warnings from former special counsel Robert Mueller about foreign powers intervening in U.S. elections, Republicans again blocked an election security bill from advancing.
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., objected to the bill that would have required paper ballots and funding for the Election Assistance Commission. It passed the House 225-184 with one Republican voting for it.
“Clearly this request is not a serious effort to make a law,” McConnell said. “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.”
McConnell added that any election security legislation must be bipartisan. He said it’s being pushed by the same Democrats who pushed the “conspiracy theory” that President Donald Trump colluded with Russian agents.
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This comes one day after Republicans blocked a trio of bills.
One of the bills would require campaigns to report to federal authorities any attempt by a foreign entity to interfere in U.S. elections. The third would protect emails and electronic devices of senators and staffers from hackers.
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Mueller testified before two House subcommittees Wednesday warning about the dangers of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Senate Republicans Block 5 Election Security Bills In 2 Days
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two measures that were meant to strengthen election security.
Democrats were trying to pass both bills using unanimous consent, meaning a single vote could shut them down.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was pushing a bill that would require the use of paper ballots and provide funding for the Election Assistance Commission. The bill had passed the House with only one Republican’s support. McConnell objected, calling it “partisan legislation.” He said any election security legislation brought up in the Senate must be bipartisan.
McConnell also objected to a bill from Sen. Richard Blumenthal that would require campaigns to tell the FBI if a foreign government offered them election help.
This comes a day after former special counsel Robert Mueller testified to lawmakers that he believes Russians will meddle in the 2020 election. He even warned, “They’re doing it as we sit here.”
And on the same day as Mueller’s testimony, Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith objected to three separate bills proposed by Democratic Sens. Mark Warner, Richard Blumenthal and Ron Wyden. They were also trying to pass the bills by unanimous consent. Hyde-Smith did not explain why she objected.
Two of the bills she shut down would require campaigns to report any foreign attempts to interfere in U.S. elections; the third is meant to fight hackers.