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Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

The House Homeland Security Committee has finished the first of two panels of election cybersecurity hearings Wednesday, a sign of the Democratic majority's priorities.

Why it matters: While a Republican Senate had been on board with providing new election security funding to the states during the last Congress, the Republican majority in the House had thwarted that push.

  • "This hearing is long overdue," noted Homeland chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) in his opening remarks.

Details: The hearings are intended in part to bolster House Resolution 1, the sweeping anti-corruption bill that contains several election security provisions, including funding and formalizing strategy.

  • Republicans view the provisions as too broad.
  • "I hope that when H.R. 1 stalls in the Senate, which it will, we revisit the issue of election security in a bipartisan manner," said Rep. Mike Rogers, (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the committee.
  • Rogers questioned the value of increasing spending on security, given that it would be difficult to spend the money before the next round of primaries.

Be smart: Voting machines are indeed hackable, but election security touches on deep issues of distrust between states and the federal government. States control elections, including election machine purchases, and both Congress and federal agencies have struggled in the past to convince the states that even voluntary help from the national government does not amount to a government takeover.

  • That relationship is improving, said the director of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Christopher Krebs. "Right now that relationship is strong and getting stronger."
  • Krebs and Thomas Hicks, commissioner of the Election Assistance Commission, emphasized that upgrading infrastructure to increase the audit-ability of elections — from registration through voting — is a current key priority.

The bottom line: It may be time for a more forceful hand by the federal government, witness Jake Braun, CEO of Cambridge Global Advisors, told Axios before the afternoon hearing.

  • "The best model might be MADD [Mothers Against Drunk Driving]," he said. "States didn't raise all their blood alcohol level laws until Congress withheld funding from the Department of Transportation."

Go deeper: House Democrats' first bill has an eye on election security

Go deeper

NRA files for bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for voluntary bankruptcy as part of a restructuring plan.

Driving the news: The gun rights group said it would reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment." Last year, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

46 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.

A new Washington

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Image

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that the city should expect a "new normal" for security — even after President-elect Biden's inauguration.

The state of play: Inaugurations are usually a point of celebration in D.C., but over 20,000 troops are now patrolling Washington streets in an unprecedented preparation for Biden's swearing-in on Jan. 20.