The Senate Appropriations Committee approved on Sept. 19 $250 million in funds to support state and local governments’ efforts to strengthen election security ahead of the 2020 elections.
The funding was included in a bipartisan amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill and sponsored by Senate Appropriations FSGG Subcommittee Ranking Member Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama. The funding will allow states to upgrade election technology, improve cybersecurity and help prevent future cyberattacks.
“Our elections were attacked in 2016, and we have every reason to believe that they will be attacked again,” said Coons. “Today, I’m pleased that, on a bipartisan basis, the Senate Appropriations Committee came to an agreement to provide $250 million in election security grants that will allow states to replace outdated election machinery and invest in cybersecurity. This is a responsible investment and I’m grateful to Sen. Leahy for his leadership on this issue.”
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence recently released a report outlining Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and target the nation’s election infrastructure in all 50 states, conducting reconnaissance, probing and mapping systems and looking for vulnerabilities to exploit. According to the report, the Russian government was able to gain access to election systems in two states, including successfully accessing and extracting up to 200,000 voter registration records in Illinois.
Despite the urgent threat to the integrity of elections, the FSGG Appropriations bill did not contain funding to address this critical national security threat and has not provided funding since fiscal year 2018, causing Leahy and Coons to sound the alarm and threaten earlier this week.
Text of the amendment is available at bit.ly/31AiSdB.