FACT CHECK: Has Mitch McConnell Blocked Every Bill Intended To Prevent Foreign Interference In The 2020 Election?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Reporter

The Facebook page Occupy Democrats shared a meme that claims Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has “blocked every single piece of legislation to protect the 2020 election from foreign interference.”

“Every. Single. One,” it added for emphasis.

Verdict: False

While McConnell has declined to take up a number of bills related to election security, the Senate passed the Defending Elections Against Trolls from Enemy Regimes (DETER) Act on June 3. Congress also allocated $380 million to shore up election security in the 2018 omnibus with McConnell’s support.

Fact Check:

This post from Occupy Democrats, which received nearly 12,000 shares on Facebook, echoes concerns among Democrats who say that McConnell has not done enough to protect the country from foreign interference in the upcoming election.

“Leader McConnell would just like the issue to go away,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer recently told The New York Times. “We’re not going to let that happen.”

As majority leader, McConnell has wide discretion when it comes to deciding what legislation makes it to the Senate floor. As of late, he has refused to take up a number of bills related to election security, including H.R. 1, a sweeping proposal from House Democrats that, in part, would enhance security measures.

McConnell has defended his position by arguing that the true intent of many of the bills is to transfer control of elections from state and local authorities to the federal government.

“I’m open to considering legislation, but it has to be directed in a way that doesn’t undermine state and local control of elections. The Democrats … would like to nationalize everything. They want the federal government to take over broad swaths of the election process because they think that would somehow benefit them,” he said during a June interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham.

Nonetheless, McConnell has not blocked “every single piece of legislation” related to election security as the meme suggests.

On June 3, the Senate passed the DETER Act by unanimous consent. The legislation would designate “any alien who has engaged, is engaged, or at any time after admission engages in improper interference in a United States election” as either deportable or inadmissible to the U.S.

“As we saw in the 2016 elections, Vladimir Putin’s Russia is attempting to strike at the very heart of the democratic values, freedoms, and liberty all Americans hold dear,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, a cosponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “By barring foreigners who improperly interfere in our elections from coming to the United States, the DETER Act sends a message to hostile nations across the world that the United States will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections.”

McConnell also supported the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act, an omnibus spending bill that included $380 million to improve election security at the state level.

As of Sept. 30, about 8 percent of the money had been spent, with most of it going towards cybersecurity and voting equipment. It is projected that 85 percent of the money will be spent ahead of the 2020 presidential election, according to a spokesperson for the Election Assistance Commission.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Reporter
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