Senate Republicans successfully beat back another attempt by Democrats to extend hundreds of millions of dollars in grant funding to assist states and localities looking to upgrade the security of their election systems. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced an amendment to “minibus” appropriations legislation that would have allocated $250 million in federal funding to replace outdated and insecure voting machines, provide security training for election workers, upgrade voter registration software and fund other state and local initiatives related to election security. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), one of the original co-sponsors of the Secure Elections Act that initially proposed grant funding to states, took to the floor to oppose the amendment. Lankford said he was opposing the measure because Congress voted in favor of giving $380 million to states earlier this year.
Those funds were zeroed out of next year’s appropriations, leading to outcries from Democrats who said more money is needed. Lankford said he wants to wait to see how the first round of dollars is spent before considering additional funding.
“I believe it is far too early to add another quarter billion dollars … when we don’t know how the first $380 million has even been spent, and the Intelligence Committee did extensive research on how much was needed and [determined] the $380 million amount was what was needed at the time,” Lankford said.
In a follow-up statement after the vote, Lankford provided additional details behind his concerns. “Those upgrades have not occurred, been verified, nor have new state election cyber standards been implemented,” he said. “We must consider requests for additional funding after those things have happened, not before.”
A majority actually voted in favor of the measure, 50-47, but it was unable to overcome a 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster. Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) were not present to vote. All Democrats voted in favor, while all Republicans save Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) voted against.
Full Article: Senate blocks additional funding for election security — FCW.