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Mitch McConnell. Photo: Mark Wilson/Staff/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday announced his support to appropriate $250 million for election security.

The big picture: Despite bipartisan and Democrat-led bills crossing his desk, McConnell has regularly thwarted election security legislation. Per McConnell, the cash influx "will bring our total allocation for election security to more than $600 million since fiscal 2018."

Why it matters: While individual states are improving security on their own, there are still cost constraints some states can't surmount without federal funding.

Conservative activists Grover Norquist and Adam Brandon held a press conference on Wednesday to push McConnell toward action, while Democrats have needled him on the issue since 2016.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said $250 million in funding would not eliminate the need for a more comprehensive election security plan.

Homeland Security expressed optimism Thursday. "We're excited about the deal if it comes to pass," Christopher Krebs, director of DHS' Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which handles the department's efforts in election security, told reporters at a cybersecurity conference.

  • But, but, but: Krebs added that states would value consistent, dependable funding more than a one-time cash splurge.

Go deeper: McConnell lashes out at media, Democrats over "Moscow Mitch" label

Go deeper

3 mins ago - World

Biden to warn Putin U.S. will add troops in Eastern Europe if Russia invades Ukraine

Putin meets Biden in Geneva. Photo: Peter Klaunzer - Pool/Keystone via Getty

President Biden will warn Russian President Vladimir Putin when they speak on Tuesday that if Russia invades Ukraine, the U.S. is prepared to increase its troop presence, capabilities and military exercises on NATO's "eastern flank," a senior administration official told reporters.

Why it matters: The administration believes it's increasingly likely that Putin will order an invasion.

36 mins ago - World

U.S. announces diplomatic boycott of Beijing Winter Olympics

An Olympic-themed sculpture in Beijing on Dec. 1. Photo: Hou Yu/China News Service via Getty Images

The U.S. announced Monday that it will not send officials to the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in protest of human rights abuses committed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The diplomatic boycott — which won't prevent American athletes from competing — marks a major escalation between the U.S. and China amid already heightened tensions over the CCP's treatment of Muslim minorities, military threats to Taiwan and economic tariffs.

Stuck jet stream brings blowtorch December in Lower 48, frigid Alaska

Short-term climate outlook for Dec. 13-19, 2021, from the Climate Prediction Center at NOAA. (NOAA/CPC)

The Lower 48 states have seen record-shattering warmth so far this December, with temperatures running as high as 35°F above average for this time of year. The warmth has been so pronounced that during the weekend, brush fires broke out in a snowless, unusually mild Denver metro area.

The big picture: The jet stream, which is a river of air that rides at about 30,000 feet along the temperature contrast between air masses, steering storms as it goes, has been stuck in a position well north of the continental U.S., keeping storms and cold weather at bay.