Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked two election security measures on Thursday less than 24 hours after former special counsel Robert Mueller warned about election meddling in 2020, saying Russia was already laying the groundwork to interfere in the 2020 election “as we sit here.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked for consent to pass a House bill that requires the use of paper ballots and includes funding for the Election Assistance Commission.
That bill passed the House 225-184 with one Republican voting for it.
But McConnell objected to Schumer’s request, saying Schumer was trying to pass “partisan legislation.”
“Clearly this request is not a serious effort to make a law. Clearly something so partisan that it only received one single solitary Republican vote in the House is not going to travel through the Senate by unanimous consent,” McConnell said.
Under Senate rules, any one senator can request consent to pass a bill, but any one senator can also object to it.
Schumer argued that if McConnell didn’t like the bill, “let’s put another bill on the floor and debate it.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) also asked for his fellow lawmakers for consent to pass legislation that would require candidates, campaign officials and their family members to notify the FBI of assistance offers from foreign governments.
McConnell also objected to that bill.
Asked whether Russia would attempt to attack future U.S. elections, as it did in 2016, Mueller warned Congress on Wednesday that “they’re doing it as we sit here.”
“Our committee issued a report and insight on saying that Russian active measures are growing with frequency and intensity, and including their expanded use of groups such as the IRA, and these groups pose a significant threat to the United States and our allies in upcoming elections, would you agree with that?” House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) asked Mueller.
Mueller agreed, adding “many more countries are developing the capability to replicate what the Russians have done.”
“Did you think that this was a single attempt by the Russians to get involved in our election? Or did you find evidence to suggest they’ll try to do this again?” Hurd asked.
“It wasn’t a single attempt, they’re doing it as we sit here. And they expect to do it during the next campaign,” Mueller said.
Mueller recommended generally that intelligence and law enforcement agencies should work together in response to the threat.
“They should use the full resources that we have to address this,” Mueller said.