After Mueller testifies about Russian election meddling, GOP blocks election security bill

Senate Republicans blocked a pair of election security bills and a cybersecurity measure on Wednesday in the wake of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Wednesday testimony, in which he mentioned Russia meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, The Hill reports.

The Democrats attempted to get consent to pass two bills. These bills would have required campaigns to alert the FBI and Federal Election Commission to any foreign entities that offered them assistance. There was also a bill which would let the Senate Sergeant at Arms offer voluntary cyber assistance for personal devices and accounts belonging to senators and their staff.

All of these bills were blocked by Republican Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith. Smith gave no reasons for doing so. She did not explain if she was objecting on the behalf of herself or the Senate GOP caucus. Also, a spokesman did not respond for comment.

According to Senate rules, while any individual senator can ask for consent to pass a bill, any individual senator can also object.

This tension on the floor emerged after Mueller warned about election interference from Russia. He said that they did it during the last election and are planning to work to interfere in the 2020 election again.

As The Hill points out, Republicans are not expected to move the legislation through the Rules Committee, citing fears of attempts to “federalize” elections. Democratic Virginia Senator Mark Warner, who is the vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, spoke in favor of the bills.

“Mr. Mueller’s testimony should serve as a warning to every member of this body about what could happen in 2020, literally in our next elections. Unfortunately, in the nearly three years since we uncovered Russia’s attack on our democracy, this body has not held a single vote on stand-alone legislation to protect our elections.”

Many in the Senate agree with Warner’s statement that if a foreign adversary “tries to offer assistance to your campaign, your response should not be ‘thank you.’ Your response should be a moral obligation to tell the FBI.”

However, two Republican senators, Marsha Blackburn (Tenn) and Cindy Hyde-Smith, have blocked multiple bills regarding cybersecurity and reporting offerings of foreign money in elections.

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Isadora Teich

Isadora Teich is a freelance writer and digital nomad who has worked in web marketing, digital branding, entertainment, and news. When not writing or traveling she is probably doing yoga, learning Spanish, or experimenting in the kitchen.