Key Senate Panel Advances Leahy-Reed Amendment Adding $250M for Election Security
WASHINGTON, DC – Recognizing that election security is a matter of national security, the Senate Appropriations Committee today approved a bipartisan amendment sponsored by Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) to add $250 million in election security funding for states to the fiscal year 2020 Financial Services and General Government funding bill.
If enacted, the $250 million will allow states to update voting equipment and harden their election systems against cyber interference.
“Fair, honest elections are the bedrock of our democracy. It’s mind-boggling that some senators have repeatedly blocked much-needed election security reforms, and denied states additional funding to upgrade voting systems against foreign attacks. But today, the Appropriations Committee beat them and took a needed step toward helping all fifty states do more to safeguard our elections,” said Senator Reed. “While Republican leaders and President Trump have resisted providing any election security grants last year and failed to include any funding in the base appropriations bill this year, the $250 million investment provided by this amendment will help bolster election security in Rhode Island and nationwide. My message to anyone who thinks this money is all we need to do is that you are clearly mistaken. We must do more.”
After the U.S. 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. As a result, Rhode Island received $3 million to help the state secure election equipment, defend voting systems from cyberattacks, and improve election security.
Senator Reed also urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to allow votes on a pair of election security bills he has introduced with Senator Amy Klobuchar: S.1540 - the Election Security Act, and S.2493 - a bill to establish a Malign Foreign Influence Response Center to combat election interference operations conducted by foreign adversaries against the United States.
Now that the 2020 Financial Services Appropriations bill has been approved by the full committee, it advances to consideration by the full U.S. Senate, and must then be reconciled with companion legislation making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives which has included $600 million for election security in its version of this bill.