In brief: Republican Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, on Thursday morning blocked two bills put forth by his Democratic colleagues which had aimed to improve the security of elections. Given the focus on foreign interference in recent elections, notably Russia’s “meddling,” McConnell earned himself a new nickname in the process — #MoscowMitch.
Former Special Counsel to the US Department of Justice, Robert Mueller, testified this week on the two volumes of his report investigating election meddling during the 2016 Presidential campaign. Whatever your views on his testimony and the conclusions reached on obstruction of justice, Mr. Mueller was clear about one thing – Russia had attempted to influence the election, and would do so again.
Not 24 hours later, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two bills submitted by Democrats that aimed to secure future elections, and the public has been quick to react. On Friday, the hashtag #MoscowMitch trended, as people voiced their disapproval of McConnell’s decision.
The two bills had sought to require paper ballots, greater funding of the Election Assistance Commission and an obligation on campaigns to inform the FBI of any offers for help from foreign governments.
On the Senate floor on Thursday morning, McConnell said “it is very important that we maintain the integrity and security of our elections in our country.” So he agrees with the Democrats’ goal, but clearly believes that the bills as presented were not best designed to meet that goal. McConnell called the bills “highly partisan,” and coming from “the same folks who spent two years hyping up a conspiracy theory about President Trump and Russia.”
McConnell didn’t go into specifics as to why the bills were “highly partisan” in his eyes, other than stating that they had only had one Republican vote on their side when they had earlier passed through the House of Representatives, therefore the bill must be partisan.
In response, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said that if McConnell objected to the bills as proposed, “let’s put another bill on the floor and debate it.” That didn’t happen, so as of yet, there are no new efforts to secure future US elections in the wake of Robert Mueller’s testimony.