Per Axios, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Tuesday blocked an attempt by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) 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 (R-Ky.).
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.
TheHill reports Senate Republicans blocked an effort by Democrats to unanimously pass three election security-related bills Tuesday, marking the latest attempt to clear legislation ahead of the November elections
Democrats tried to get consent to pass two bills that require campaigns to alert the FBI and Federal Election Commission (FEC) about foreign offers of assistance, as well as legislation to provide more election funding and ban voting machines from being connected to the internet.
But Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) opposed each of the requests. Under the Senate’s rules, any one senator can ask for unanimous consent to pass a bill, but any one senator can object and block their requests.
Blackburn accused Democrats of trying to move the bills knowing that GOP lawmakers would block them and giving them fodder for fundraising efforts.
“They 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? They want it to rest in the hands of Washington, D.C., bureaucrats,” she said.
Election security has become a point of contention during the Trump era. House Democrats have passed several election-related bills, including a sweeping ethics and election reform measure, but they’ve hit a wall in the GOP-controlled Senate.
A release from Democrats this week that blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for a “legislative graveyard” included a list of 10 election security-related bills that have stalled in the upper chamber.
Senate Democrats have tried repeatedly during the past year to try to bring up election security bills on the floor without success.
The latest attempt comes as Democrats are embroiled in their own days-long scandal after an app malfunctioned, throwing the Iowa caucuses into chaos. The snag was not due to a hack or cyberattack, but a “coding issue,” according to the Iowa Democratic Party.
It also comes as Democrats are turning their attention to the 2020 election after the months-long impeachment battle, as they try to find ways to pressure GOP senators to buck President Trump. The New Hampshire primary is underway Tuesday, and voters in both Nevada and South Carolina are expected to head to the polls this month.
“The current president of the United States, far from having the same fears about foreign interference as our founders, has been very public about his openness to foreign assistance and manipulation in support of his election,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.
“The president was just impeached over this issue, and the Senate just concluded a trial in which it appeared a bipartisan majority of senators broadly accepted the fact that the president leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars of military assistance to Ukraine to compel its government to investigate one of his political rivals,” he added.
Trump has denied wrongdoing in his dealings with Ukraine, with the administration arguing he was concerned about corruption and cost-sharing with other European countries. Several GOP senators who voted to acquit Trump on House-passed articles of impeachment also described the president’s conversation with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky as “shameful” and “inappropriate.”