Schumer Floor Remarks On Senate Dems’ Efforts To Pass Commonsense Legislation To Secure Our Elections From Foreign Interference

February 11, 2020

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor announcing that Senate Democrats will make unanimous consent requests today to immediately pass critical legislation to better safeguard our elections against foreign interference in our elections. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The 2020 primary elections are ongoing, and the national election is only nine months away. If there is anything we can say for certain about our elections at this point, it’s that foreign entities—Putin, China, perhaps others—are already implementing their schemes to undermine the public confidence in the integrity of those elections and to bend social media in favor of their chosen outcome. FBI Director Wray, former DNI Coats, virtually every member of our national security and intelligence community has warned us of this danger.

As we’ve heard over the past weeks, the threat of foreign interference in our elections dates back to the founding days of the country. George Washington warned: “foreign interference is one of the most baneful foes of Republican government.” Adams wrote that “as long as elections happen, the danger of foreign influence recurs.”

The warnings of our founders hold a new and startling relevance today. The current president of the United States—far from having the same fears about foreign influence as our founders—has been very public about his openness to foreign assistance and manipulation in support of his election. If a foreign power had dirt on one of his opponents, the president said: “oh, I think I’d want to hear it.” At different times, the president has invited Russia, Ukraine, and China to investigate his political opponents.

Of course, the president was just impeached over this issue. And the Senate just concluded a trial in which it appeared a bipartisan majority of Senators broadly accepted the fact that the president leveraged hundreds of millions of dollars of military assistance to Ukraine to compel its government to investigate one of his political rivals.

The trial of President Trump exposed in great detail the president’s willingness to accept foreign help in the elections. It also revealed just how little Senate Republicans were willing to do about it. Senate Republicans wouldn’t even fairly examine the charges against the president by allowing witnesses and documents in his trial.

The end of the president’s impeachment trial does not mean the issue of election security is somehow over. Far from it. We now have an even greater need to safeguard our elections than before.

The president tried to cheat in our elections and the Senate majority of his party decided to look the other way. What do you think the president will conclude? He’ll conclude that he can get away with anything. He could try to cheat again. Ask China or North Korea or Russia to investigate the Democratic nominee, whoever it is.

We know we can’t trust this president to stand up for the integrity of our elections, so Congress must. Democrats are not going to stop fighting to put up additional safeguards before the 2020 elections.

Later today, a group of my colleagues will come to the floor to ask unanimous consent to pass crucial election security legislation. Much of this legislation is bipartisan. Some of it has already been passed out of committee.  Some of it has passed the House. But it has languished for years—years—because Majority Leader McConnell has refused to bring any of these bills to the floor.

Sen. Warner and Sen. Blumenthal have “duty to report” bills, commonsense measures to require presidential campaigns to report offers of foreign help to the FBI.

Sen. Wyden and Sen. Klobuchar have the SAFE Act, another commonsense measure to authorize funding to harden election infrastructure and protect voting machines from hacking and other intrusions.

Neither of these bills should be controversial. There is nothing partisan about them. Nothing at all. But they have been consistently blocked by Senate Republicans and denied time and consideration on the floor by Republican leader, Senator McConnell.

That doesn’t mean Democrats are going to stop trying. Later today, we’ll try again to pass these bipartisan, noncontroversial bills. We’ll see if our Senate Republican colleagues are willing to do what’s necessary to protect our elections.