WASHINGTON – The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved $250 million in funds to support state and local governments’ efforts to strengthen election security ahead of the 2020 elections. The funding was included in a bipartisan amendment to the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations bill and sponsored by Senate Appropriations FSGG Subcommittee Ranking Member Chris Coons (D-Del.), Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). The funding will allow states to upgrade election technology, improve cybersecurity, and help prevent future cyberattacks.
Coons said: “Our elections were attacked in 2016, and we have every reason to believe that they will be attacked again. Today, I’m pleased that, on a bipartisan basis, the Senate Appropriations Committee came to an agreement to provide $250 million in election security grants that will allow states to replace outdated election machinery and invest in cybersecurity. This is a responsible investment and I’m grateful to Senator Leahy for his leadership on this issue.”
Leahy said: “We know that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election, targeted our election infrastructure, and did so, according to Mr. Mueller, in ‘sweeping and systematic’ fashion. This problem was not isolated to 2016 and we cannot be complacent now. These funds are critical to our national security and I look forward to working with Senator Coons and others to increase this funding further in Conference.”
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence recently released a report outlining Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and target our nation’s election infrastructure in all 50 states, conducting reconnaissance, probing and mapping systems, and looking for vulnerabilities to exploit. According to the report, the Russian government was able to gain access to election systems in two states, including successfully accessing and extracting up to 200,000 voter registration records in Illinois.
Despite the urgent threat to our Democracy and the integrity of our elections, the FSGG Appropriations bill did not contain funding to address this critical national security threat and has not provided funding since fiscal year 2018, causing Leahy and Coons to sound the alarm earlier this week.
The amendment is cosponsored by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.,) Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).
Text of the amendment is available HERE.