Senate Democrats are furious that Republicans plan to vote on a spending bill Thursday that does not include new funding for election security grants for states, which they say is necessary in light of Russia’s continued efforts to undermine America’s democratic process.
Republicans are insisting that plenty of money exists under previous grants and have accused Democrats of partisan theatrics.
At issue is a grants program overseen by the federal Election Assistance Commission and aimed at helping states administer their elections and improve voting systems; Democrats want to continue grant funding through 2019, while Republicans say the program already has been fully funded.
As Republicans insisted that states had plenty of funding leftover from prior grants, Democrats accused them of assisting President Donald Trump in his apparent refusal to take a firm stance against President Vladimir Putin — showcased in his Monday press conference with the Russian leader, where Trump appeared to defer to Putin over his own intelligence agencies.
“The American people should be very worried about the commitment of this president and his Republican allies in Congress to securing our elections,” said Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.). “This is a party that has worked with this administration to undermine and minimize the investigation surrounding Russian interference in our presidential election.”
House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) termed such arguments from Democrats a “shrewd political shenanigan that has no merit to it.”
“Maybe the special counsel will announce something in two weeks: ‘Oh, here’s what the Russian indictments really are.’ If we learn something, authorizing committees will come right back to it and we’ll go to it,” Sessions said. “But there is no new data or information, it’s at the end of 3½ billion dollars, and there are no requests.”
Though Republicans insist states are not wanting for funds — particularly as none have requested more money — Democrats responded saying states would likely make such requests if Congress made more funding available.
In some cases, the Democrats argued, states only recently received their funding, making the argument that they have leftover money moot.
The Senate’s version of the spending bill also did not include new election security money, but it passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on a bipartisan basis anyway.