Schumer Remarks After Sen. McConnell, Senate GOP Relent On Election Security Funding

September 19, 2019

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today in a statement on the Senate floor announced that Senate Republicans have finally relented to Democrats’ pressure and taken a step in the right direction by agreeing to add $250 million dollars for election security funding to the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations bill. Senator Schumer pointed out that this new funding is not a substitute for passing the comprehensive bipartisan election security legislation that experts say is desperately needed and that has been blocked by Senate Republicans. Below are his remarks, which can also be found here.

This morning, after months and months and months of Republican resistance, and months of insistent Democratic pressure, Senate Republicans have finally agreed to support our Democratic request for additional election security funding in advance of the 2020 elections.

This is similar to an amendment Democrats offered during last year’s appropriations process to help states harden their election infrastructure to protect against Russian or Chinese or Iranian interference. A year ago, our Republican friends unfortunately and shortsightedly rejected this amendment. Well, maybe, just maybe, they are starting to come around to our view that election security is necessary; that if Americans don’t believe their elections are on the up-and-up, woe is us as a country and as a democracy. It is not all the money we requested, and it doesn’t include a single solitary reform that virtually everyone knows we need, but it’s a start. Leader McConnell kept saying we don’t need the money. I made umpteen speeches here at this chair and the Republican leader denied the need but now, thank God, he has seen the light. We need more money for election security, ask election officials—Democrat or Republican—throughout the country.

So, I hope today’s vote means that Senate Republicans are beginning to see the light on election security. While this funding is important, it’s not the only thing we must do to secure our elections from Russian, Chinese, Iranian or any other foreign country interfering. There are multiple, bipartisan pieces of legislation awaiting action on the floor that would counter foreign influence operations against our democracy, safeguard our elections, and deter foreign adversaries from even attempting to interfere.

We have been warned time and time again by our national security leaders—nearly all of them Republicans appointed by President Trump—that China and, of course, Russia are potential threats in 2020. We cannot sit on our hands while our adversaries try to replicate and out-do what Putin accomplished in 2016.

Leader McConnell should bring the bipartisan bills to the floor. We’re getting the money through appropriations, but we need legislation to refine where the dollars go. So Leader McConnell, now that you’ve seen the light on the money, go one step further. Bring the bipartisan bills—the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act, Secure Elections Act, and the DETER ACT—to the floor for debate and a vote. Otherwise, the job will remain incomplete, and our democracy vulnerable.