House Republicans Voted Down Increased Funding For U.S. Election Security
On Thursday, the GOP voted down a Democratic effort to increase election security spending to stand up to Russia over interference in U.S. elections.
The funding vote came amid a national controversy over Russian interference in the 2016 election. Even though U.S. intelligence agencies say that Russia did intervene in the presidential race — President Donald Trump publicly accepted Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s assertion that Russia had not intervened in the election and denounced American intelligence agencies. Later Trump flipped from his statement at the Helsinki summit, saying he confused words and actually supports the American intelligence agencies.
“Now is the time to double down on our efforts to prevent election hacking,” Democrat 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.”
Democrats proposed to add $380 million in state election security grants for 2019. Republicans dismissed the Democrats’ effort, arguing that they’ve already fully funded grants over the years and excluded any new funding for it in the spending bill.
“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.
House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions said Congress has already spent more than $3.5 billion on election security since the contested 2000 election. States still have money left from the current $380 million appropriation, and lawmakers have not been made aware of any new requests for more money as the November midterm elections approach, he said. Sessions also called the Democrats’ argument a “shrewd political shenanigan that has no merit to it.”
Jim Jordan, a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, discounted the need for any new security spending. “I know what we need for safe and secure elections, and that’s voter ID,” Jordan told The Washington Post.
The Democrats’ motion failed with 182 “yes” votes and 232 “no” votes and Republicans passed the broader spending bill, without increasing the funding for election security.
Nita Lowey, the top Democrat on the spending panel, said the GOP’s decision to not add new election security money to an existing pot was the “worst cut” in the entire spending bill. “We have all heard the public warnings of our intelligence community that Russia will attempt to attack our democracy again,” Lowey said. “Yet instead of helping states protect and fortify their election infrastructure from cyber hacking, this bill would eliminate election security grants entirely.”