House Democrats took turns Wednesday requesting a vote on an amendment to fund election systems protection, saying the money is needed to “prevent Russian interference” in future elections.
The procedural moves from Democrats come ahead of a vote on a Republican-led spending bill (HR 6147) that would zero out election security grants that help states to fortify their systems against hacking and cyber attacks. The Election Assistance Commission is funded at $380 million under the fiscal 2018 omnibus spending bill enacted earlier this year.
“News flash, Mr. Speaker,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., “I hope my Republican friends are listening: Russia was just caught meddling in our election. In fact, meddling is not strong enough. They attacked our country.”
More than a dozen Democrats lined up in the House chamber to insist on a vote on the election security amendment. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., banged the gavel repeatedly and denied the requests.
“The refusal to appropriate a dime for state defense against Russian interference really represents nothing less than unilateral disarmament,” said Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett when he joined the parade of unanimous consent requests for a vote on the amendment sponsored by Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill.
The Quigley amendment was excluded from the rule for floor consideration of the spending package, meaning it is not in order for debate on the floor. The proposal would provide $380 million in grant funding to states to beef up election security.
The spectacle comes at a time of heightened tensions on the topic.
When asked if Russia is still targeting the United States and its midterm congressional elections, President Donald Trump on Wednesday responded “no” — again breaking with his top intelligence official, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who last week warned that “red lights” are blinking with regard to Moscow’s plans to again meddle in an American election.
Watch: Trump on Whether Russia is Still Targeting the U.S.: ‘No’
Lex Samuels contributed to this report.