A bipartisan bill that would have beefed up the nation’s defenses against election meddling has been held up in the Senate at the request of the White House, which opposed the proposed law, a new report said Thursday.
The Secure Elections Act, introduced by GOP Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford in December 2017, was co-sponsored by two of the Senate’s most prominent liberals, Kamala Harris of California and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Yahoo News reported.
Conservative Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and centrist Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, were also behind the bill.
Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri was set to conduct a markup of the bill on Wednesday morning in the Senate Rules Committee, which he chairs, and it was expected to come to a full Senate vote in October.
But action on the measure came to a halt.
The legislation would give all 50 states’ top election official security clearance to get threat information.
It would also formalize information-sharing between the federal government — including the Department of Homeland Security — and states regarding threats to electoral infrastructure.
And a technical advisory board would establish best practices concerning election cybersecurity.
In a statement to Yahoo News, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said that while the administration “appreciates Congress’s interest in election security, [the Department of Homeland Security] has all the statutory authority it needs to assist state and local officials to improve the security of existing election infrastructure.”
Under current law, DHS is already able to work with state and local authorities to protect elections, Walters wrote.
“We cannot support legislation with inappropriate mandates or that moves power or funding from the states to Washington for the planning and operation of elections,” she added.
But the White House gave no specifics on what parts of the bill it objected to, and did not immediately respond to a request from The Post for further details.
In a statement, Klobuchar thanked Blunt and Lankford, making clear that they were both allies in the effort.
“They tried valiantly to salvage the votes for this bill on the Republican side,” Klobuchar’s statement said.
“In the end we had every single Democrat on the committee committed to vote for the bill. Any changes that were recently made to the bill were made to accommodate the Republican leadership.”
The bill was stalled at the same time special counsel Robert Mueller is probing Russian election meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties to the Trump campaign.
The US intelligence community has also warned that Russia and other state actors continue to try to interfere in the US elections as the November midterms approach.