Blue Dogs Call on House, Senate Appropriations Leaders to Provide Robust Funding for States to Enhance Election Security
WASHINGTON—Today, the Co-Chairs of the Blue Dog Coalition and the Co-Chairs of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security sent a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees calling for robust funding for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in order to support its grant funding for states, territories, and the District of Columbia, to strengthen protections of their election infrastructure. Specifically, the letter called for funding the EAC program in the amount approved by the House for Fiscal Year 2020. While the House approved $600 million in funding for FY2020, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved only $250 million.
The letter was signed by members of Blue Dog Coalition leadership, Reps. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07), Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Lou Correa (CA-46), and Anthony Brindisi (NY-22). In addition to Coalition leadership, the Co-Chairs of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security, Reps. Kendra Horn (OK-05) and Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02), signed the letter.
See below for the full text:
Dear Chairwoman Lowey, Chairman Shelby, Ranking Member Granger, and Vice Chairman Leahy:
When the House of Representatives and the Senate meet to reconcile the differences between their versions of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2020, we respectfully ask you to provide the highest level of funding possible for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to swiftly make grants to states, territories, and the District of Columbia under the Help America Vote Act of 2002. We further request that you include language requiring grantees to use this federal funding to replace direct-recording electronic voting machines with voting systems that require the use of a voter-verified paper ballot, as well as to address cyber vulnerabilities in election systems, provide election officials with cybersecurity training, institute election system cybersecurity best practices, and make other improvements to the security of federal elections.
The Fiscal Year 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 115-141) provided $380 million to the EAC for grants to improve the administration of elections, including to enhance election security, and all of that funding has been disbursed by the EAC. No additional funding was provided for this purpose during the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations cycle. The current appropriations cycle represents Congress’s last chance to help states and localities harden their election infrastructure before the 2020 election. The House-passed bill for Fiscal Year 2020 (H.R. 3351) provided $600 million for EAC, while the Senate Appropriations Committee-approved bill (S. 2524) provided only $250 million. In light of the proven threat posed by Russia—and possibly other foreign powers—to our democratic process, we believe the final bill should provide $600 million or as close to it as possible.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
In the wake of the conclusions presented in Volume I of the Mueller report, the Blue Dog Coalition took the lead in Congress to call for a comprehensive, bipartisan effort to secure U.S. elections, hold Russia accountable for its attempts to meddle in the 2016 and 2018 elections, and deter other adversaries from interfering in future elections. Over the summer, the Blue Dogs took initiative to raise the alarm by endorsing a package of legislative proposals that have earned bipartisan support in the House and Senate. The news of the Blue Dog proposal received praise from political leaders, and policy experts and organizations, and the threat of increased sanctions on Russia caused the value of the Russian ruble to drop.
The Blue Dog proposal continues to serve as roadmap for Congress to take concrete steps to secure the U.S. election infrastructure ahead of the 2020 election. Several of the Blue Dog-endorsed policies were included in the SAFE Act and the SHIELD Act, both of which have passed the House and await action in the Senate.