The House of Representatives voted Friday to allocate a half-billion dollars toward strengthening and securing U.S. elections as part of a giant spending bill unlikely to face similar success in the Senate.
Included within the $1.3 trillion appropriations package approved by the Democratic-controlled House is $500 million to be given out in grants made available by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, or EAC, up from $425 million allocated for fiscal 2020.
Passed by a mostly party-line vote of 217-197, the package also calls for $19.1 million to cover EAC operating expenses — an increase of $3.9 million, and $6 million more than the president requested.
“A longstanding priority of mine has been to help states and local governments meet the challenge of restoring the security and integrity of our elections,” said Rep. Mike Quigley, Illinois Democrat and chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services.
Describing the bill prior to its passage, Mr. Quigley said the $500 million would be given out in election security grants for states to acquire “resources and equipment to conduct safe, secure and on-time elections,” echoing concerns others Democrats have raised about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and its impact on the voting process this fall.
“This issue is especially relevant now as states are currently facing the need to adjust their processes to accommodate conducting an election in the middle of a pandemic,” Mr. Quigley noted.
Also included in the bill is $210 billion in emergency spending money to counter the coronavirus pandemic, as well as funding for the Defense and Justice departments and several other federal agencies.
Not a single Republican voted in favor of the bill, however, suggesting it will easily fail in the GOP-controlled Senate. President Trump threatened to veto the bill as well.