Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats noted last week that in the months leading up to 9/11, the "system was blinking red." Referring to Russian cyber-attacks, Coats added, "Here we are, nearly two decades later, and I'm here to say the warning lights are blinking red again."
With this in mind, House Democrats this week made a concerted effort to boost federal spending on election security at the state level, hoping to add $380 million to a broader appropriations bill. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said on the floor yesterday, "The flashing red light calls us to action. Surely we can rise above pandering to party and Putin to act on behalf of our freedom and our security."
As USA Today noted, the result in the chamber was a little unexpected.
Democratic lawmakers erupted on the House floor Thursday as they pushed to send more money to states for election security."USA! USA!" the group chanted, following fiery speeches from Reps. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Steny Hoyer, D-Md.The chanting was so loud that reporters standing outside of the chamber rushed to windows to see what was happening.
The patriotic appeal fell short: the Democratic amendment failed, 182 to 232, with no members in either party breaking ranks with their respective party.
As for the Republican arguments against the effort, some were more compelling than others.
GOP leaders argued, accurately, that some of the election-security money from the last federal spending package hasn't yet been exhausted, suggesting more funds are not necessary. (Democrats responded by noting that the spending package was only approved in March, all of the money may yet be spent, and it'd be responsible to prepare additional investments now.)
But let's not overlook Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who argued, "I know what we need for safe and secure elections, and that's voter ID."
There's a reason congressional debates generally fail to be constructive.