Democrats — and some Republicans — are pushing to boost funding for FBI counterterrorism teams and grants to states to protect against Russian meddling in elections. Lawmakers want more than $700 million for election security added to a sweeping $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that Congress must pass by March 23 to keep the government open. The House could take up the spending bill as early as next week. “We cannot leave states to their own devices in defending against the sophisticated cyber tactics of foreign governments,” House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and 14 other House Democrats wrote in a letter this week to leaders of the House Appropriations Committee. “An attack on the electoral infrastructure in one state is an attack on all of democracy in America.”
Congress has done little in response to last year’s reports from the Department of Homeland Security that Russian hackers tried to breach election systems in 21 states in 2016. Although no actual votes were changed, hackers broke into Illinois’ voter registration database.
In their letter to the Appropriations Committee, Democrats asked for $400 million for states to replace voting machines that could be vulnerable to manipulation and $14 million for the Election Assistance Commission to help states secure their election systems.
Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., was working on the huge overall spending bill, and his office had no comment on the Democrats’ request.