GOP hits back over election security bills

Republicans are pushing back on Democrats after sustaining more than a week of attacks over election security bills that have stalled in the Senate.

GOP senators this week countered accusations from across the aisle that they are thwarting all efforts to secure the 2020 elections, arguing instead that Senate Democrats are abandoning the legislative process, treading on states’ rights and misleading voters about what their legislation would do.

“When they talk about federalizing elections, or having to have a central D.C. location to be able to give certification to every vendor or Voter ID laws or federal funding for elections, those are not election security items, that’s a completely different thing,” Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), one of the main Republicans pushing for election security legislation, told The Hill this week.

Other Republicans pointed to a recent all-member Senate briefing, given by senior administration officials on election security efforts, as their reasoning for not wanting to pass election bills.

“When we were in the briefing we asked, ‘Do you need further authority?’ And the people in charge of election security don’t need any further authority, they don’t need a law,” Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told The Hill.

An escalating feud: The comments from GOP senators came as Republicans are attempting to reframe the election security debate by explaining their rationale for consistently blocking related bills, despite warnings from former special counsel Robert Mueller that Russia is actively planning on a repeat performance of its 2016 election interference.

Breaking the deadlock: One bill that is positioned to garner bipartisan support and potentially break the deadlock is the Secure Elections Act, backed by Lankford and Klobuchar in the previous Congress. The measure failed to make it through the Rules Committee, with Klobuchar blaming the White House and Lankford saying too many people “jumped in” with suggestions.

The two senators are looking to reintroduce the bill this Congress, and according to Lankford are only working out “verbs, nouns, and adjectives” before putting it out.

“You’re not going to find a Republican opposed to election security,” Lankford said. “Contrary to popular belief, we don’t want elections interfered with either.”

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