Republicans block bipartisan election security bill for third time, claiming that threats to Russia would hurt Trump

Bill would have imposed sanctions on Russia if American intelligence officials determined they were meddling

Clark Mindock
New York
Thursday 12 December 2019 23:10 GMT
(AFP/Getty Images)

A bipartisan election security bill aimed at warning Russia not to meddle in the 2020 election has been blocked by Republicans in the Senate, the third time such a bill has been blocked this year.

The bill would have established a trip wire should US intelligence agencies determine that Russia was attempting to meddle in the election, with targeted sanctions of the country’s finance, defence and energy sectors within 30 days.

But, while the measure was the product of a bipartisan partnership of Democrat Chris Van Hollen and Republican Marco Rubio, it was ultimately killed by a single Republican senator, Idaho’s Mike Crapo.

“The mechanisms in this bill have been designed more to attack the Trump administration and Republicans than attack the Russians, and those who would attack our country and our elections,” Mr Crapo said.

Mr Crapo also argued that Mr Trump, who has been accused of having welcomed election meddling by Russians during the 2016 election, had “probably put more sanctions on the Russians than any president in our history.”

Mr Van Hollen, meanwhile, has argued that the sanctions have nothing to do with the president, and are instead aimed at protecting America’s election after a particularly damaging cycle in 2016.

“This has nothing to do with president Trump, this has to do with protecting our elections,” he said, noting that the current version of the bill would have allowed Mr Trump to waive sanctions if he deemed fit.

The blocked bill follows after at least two other efforts in the Senate to bolster US election security ahead of the 2020 elections have failed or stalled.

In October, a measure that would have included several measures was blocked.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has also indicated that he would kill a House-passed bill that would require campaigns to notify law enforcement if a foreign government offers assistance.

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