When they took the podium at Thursday’s White House press briefing, national security and intelligence chiefs had one resounding message for the American people: The country is still under attack. “Russia attempted to interfere with the last election and continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “This is a threat we need to take extremely seriously and to tackle and respond to with fierce determination and focus.” Wray was joined by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, National Security Agency chief Gen. Paul Nakasone and National Security Adviser John Bolton, all of whom reiterated their commitment to defending against foreign influence campaigns. The briefing came the day after internet researchers urged the government to take more targeted actions against online misinformation campaigns at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.
Senate Republicans knocked back a Democratic effort to commit an additional $250 million to election security Wednesday. That would be on top of $380 million Congress committed to the issue in Mach.
Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., introduced an amendment to the Senate’s “minibus” spending package to include the funds but the amendment failed to reach the 60-vote threshold.
Homeland Security official Chris Krebs has said several times that the initial $380 million is insufficient to replace all outdated and vulnerable voting machines, but he’s also faulted state officials for not being specific enough about much money they need and what they’ll do with it.