Despite evidence that Russia launched an assault on the 2016 election – most recently, the FBI briefed Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis on election database hacks in two of the state’s counties – Sen. Mitch McConnell has nixed taking up election security legislation in the Senate.

“At this point I don’t see any likelihood that those bills would get to the floor if we mark them up,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said in response to a query by Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., during a Senate Rules Committee hearing that heard testimony from members of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

“I think the majority leader is of the view that this debate reaches no conclusion,” Blunt explained, fingering the House’s recently passed H.R. 1, For the People Act 2019, as a culprit.

“Frankly, I think the extreme nature of H.R. 1 from the House makes it even less likely we are going to have that debate,” Blunt said.

McConnell has said he wouldn’t bring H.R. 1, which proposes comprehensive election reform, to a vote in the Senate despite a warning recently at the Council on Foreign Relations from FBI Director Christopher Wray that 2018 was “just kind of a dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020.”

Noting the ramped-up efforts of the CIA and other government agencies to combat nation-state attacks on the 2020 election, Durbin said that by not being able to bring a bill to the Senate floor for debate “doesn’t speak very well of us.” 

During the hearing, EAC Chairwoman Christy McCormick contended that budget cuts that pared staff down by more than half from 49 to 22 have left the committee without the resources to effectively protect the elections.

“The EAC does not have full time employees devoted to these new components of providing election security support,” McCormick said. “Without additional resources, we simply will not be able to provide the breadth of support election officials need and expect from the EAC to ensure secure, accessible, and efficient elections.”