After originally promising in early March to hold public hearings on election security, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, apparently has had a change of heart, drawing a sharp rebuke from the committee's ranking member, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss.
“I am extremely disappointed that Chairman McCaul has already backtracked on his public promise to hold a much-needed hearing on election security and the ongoing Russia cyber threat,” Thompson said, noting “repeated overtures” in 2017 for Democrats and Republicans to work together on election security. “Alas, we have made no progress. To be clear, we first began hearing of Russia's interference in our elections almost two years ago.”
Thompson was responding to a letter from McCaul saying that while “protecting the integrity of our democratic institutions must be a bipartisan goal” and voicing gratitude for Thompson's efforts on “key legislative accomplishments” such as the DHS reauthorization bill, McCaul noted that DHS Secretary Kristjen Nielsen would be appearing before the committee April 26 and the new Undersecretary of the National Protection and Programs Directorate would address the lawmakers as well once he was confirmed, McCaul urged committee members to raise the issue of election security when Nielson appeared.
“Holding a focused and comprehensive hearing on election security is not a partisan or complicated request,” said Thompson. “It speaks volumes that while Chairman McCaul has been dragging his feet on this issue for over a year, the Senate is holding election security hearings today with current and former homeland security officials.”
He called for Thompson to “realize his error” and made good a March 7 promise to hold an election security hearing.
“If Chairman McCaul believes Russia will interfere in the 2018 elections, as he has stated, we cannot ignore this threat,” said Thompson, voicing concern over the security of the 2018 elections in November. “If we do nothing, we are just inviting [Russian President] Putin to what he pleases with our democracy and our domestic affairs.”