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US Rep. Jim McGovern urges GOP leaders to fund election cybersecurity grants

MassLive/ The Springfield Republican

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Washington, July 17, 2018 | comments
Via MassLive/ The Springfield Republican

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern pressed House Republicans Tuesday to fund grants that help fortify and protect U.S. election systems from foreign hackers -- an area which the Worcester Democrat argued should be a top priority following Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential contest.

McGovern, the top Democrat on the House Rules Committee, chastised GOP leaders for not including another $380 million in funding to support states' election integrity efforts in the so-called "Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill" before Congress.

Pointing to the recent indictments of 12 Russian intelligence officials related to the 2016 hacking of the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign staffers, the congressman argued that lawmakers should take a stand.

He stressed that Congress should respond to this "attack" in the way it has always dealt with threats:" "by putting partisanship aside and putting our country first -- by doing whatever it takes to assure we are not left vulnerable again."

"But, how is this majority responding? By using the financial services appropriations bill to zero out funding for grants that help protect our elections from cyber-hacking. That's a cut of $380 million compared to what Congress enacted in FY 2018," he said in remarks from the House floor. "The wolf is at the door and my Republican colleagues are inviting it inside for dinner. This is insane."

The Democrat took specific issue with the Rules Committee's Monday night move to block U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley's, D-Illinois, amendment that sought to add$380 million to the appropriations bill to help states protect election systems from cyber attacks. 

"That's the smallest step that they could've taken. Instead, we can't even have a debate on the floor. Apparently the Republicans are afraid of having a fair fight about protecting our democracy and it's indefensible," he argued. 

McGovern further condemned President Donald Trump for questioning his own intelligence officials' claims regarding such interference -- particularly during a Monday joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

The congressman said he found it "mind boggling" that the president did not stand up to Putin.

"It is clear that an effort to defend our democracy will have to be led by Congress because it's not coming from the White House. But we're not leading when we make it easier for an adversary like Russia to attack us again," he said. "That's retreating."
McGovern asked when the Republicans are "going to provide a check on President Trump," contending that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle should support increasing sanctions against Russia and demanding that Trump's national security team testify before Congress.

He further argued that Congress "can start standing up by opposing" the legislation, which he offered "doesn't do nearly enough to protect our nation against hostile foreign powers hell bent on attacking our democracy."

Although the FY 2018 omnibus spending bill included $380 million for state election security grants, Democrats have raised concerns about the wide-ranging, $23.4 billion Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill's lack of funding for such efforts.

Quigley said Tuesday that he will again offer his amendment to restore the $380 million in election security funding.
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