Stories

After Mueller warns of election interference, GOP blocks security bills

 Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee
Former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In the 24 hours since former special counsel Robert Mueller warned of future election interference in his congressional testimony, Senate Republicans have blocked a collection of election security bills and a cybersecurity measure.

The latest: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday blocked Democrats from pushing forward a House-passed bill to authorize $775 million in state funding over the next 2 years to bolster voting system security, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Mueller testified on the Hill Wednesday that "many more countries are developing capabilities to replicate" what the Russians did in 2016. "They are doing it as we sit here, and they expect to do it during the next campaign," he said. Per New York Magazine, there's concern that if the law's not updated, it could leave the U.S. open to further interference.

Details: Democrats also sought consent to pass 2 bills that would require campaigns to alert the FBI and Federal Election Commission about foreign offers of assistance and that would let the Senate sergeant-at-arms offer voluntary cyber assistance for personal devices and accounts of senators and staff, The Hill notes.

  • Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) blocked these bills, without stating whether she made the motion by herself or on behalf of her party, per New York Magazine.

What they're saying: The magazine reports that Senate Intelligence Committee vice-chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) said as he condemned Sen. Hyde-Smith’s motion, "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."

The other side: According to CNN, the GOP says that Congress has already improved security for the upcoming election. Already, U.S. law forbids campaigns from accepting or soliciting foreign assistance. However, the U.S. government does not enforce reporting mandates on campaigns nor candidates, according to Newsweek. Republicans have also warned of attempts to "federalize" elections, The Hill notes.

Go deeper: Read Mueller's opening statement to Congress