Senate Republicans blocked three election security bills on Wednesday, marking the second time in as many days they’ve stymied legislation.
But they were blocked by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who noted that the unsuccessful attempt was the latest by Democrats to pass election security bills in the Senate ahead of 2020.
“You know, it’s not a good sign if you’re doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” Blackburn said.
Under Senate rules, any one senator can ask to vote on or pass a bill. But because it requires unanimous support, any one senator can also block their requests.
Election security has become a point of contention during the Trump era. House Democrats have passed several election-related bills, including a sweeping ethics and election reform measure, but they’ve hit a wall in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Warner, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, tried to pass legislation that would require campaign officials to report contacts with foreign nationals who are trying to make donations or coordinate with the campaign to the Federal Election Commission, which would notify the FBI.
“The alarm bells are going off and what are we doing? We’re running out of time to do something about it,” Warner said from the Senate floor.
Warner added that if a foreign government offers to interfere to help a campaign “the appropriate response is not to say thank you. The appropriate response is to call the FBI.”
House Democrats are in the middle of an impeachment inquiry focused on President Trump asking Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, and whether or not he held up aid to try to build pressure.
Klobuchar, a 2020 White House hopeful and the top Democrat on the Rules Committee, on Wednesday tried to pass legislation requiring campaigns to report “illicit offers” of election assistance from foreign governments or individuals to both the FBI and the Federal Election Commission, and take steps to ensure that political advertisements on social media are subject to the same stricter rules as ads on television or radio.
“It’s about protecting our election hardware and infrastructure but it is also about protecting us from this disinformation campaign, all of this really bad stuff,” Klobuchar said.
The legislation, known as the SHIELD Act, is expected to get a vote in the House on Wednesday.
Wyden, meanwhile, tried to pass legislation, known as the SAFE Act, that would authorize more funding for the Election Assistance Commission and includes language that would ban voting machines from being connected to the internet and being produced in foreign countries.
Blackburn also objected to that bill.
“I just find it stunning that the Republican Party continues its wall-to-wall campaign of obstruction against election security,” Wyden countered.