WASHINGTON, D.C. — A conservative group is increasing pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put election security legislation up for a vote in the Senate by airing ads that target the Kentucky Republican and four other Republican senators in their home states.
Republicans for the Rule of Law is unveiling new spots that urge Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and James Lankford, R-Okla., to push McConnell for a vote, urging: “Don’t let Mitch McConnell stand in your way.” The group is also re-airing a 60-second ad that calls on McConnell to act.
The 30-second spots will air nearly daily on “Fox & Friends” starting Wednesday. They’ll also run on “Fox News Sunday” and NBC’s “Meet the Press” in the senators’ home cities on Sunday as part of a $400,000 ad buy that includes digital ads.
The ads note the senators’ support for election security legislation.
“McConnell and all Republican Senators have no greater responsibility than protecting our elections from foreign enemies like Russia and Iran,” said Republicans for the Rule of Law legal adviser and spokesman Chris Truax.
Bill Kristol, a member of the group and the former editor of the Weekly Standard, said Republicans for the Rule of Law believes the issue deserves a hearing on the Senate floor.
“How do you defend not letting these bills come to the floor for debate and discussion?” Kristol said. “What’s the rationale for literally doing nothing?”
Rubio, Graham and Lankford all support various election security bills to counter election tampering by foreign governments in the wake of the 2016 election and Blunt chairs the Senate Rules Committee that has jurisdiction over the legislation.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress largely agree that Russia sought to interfere in the election, but McConnell has been reluctant to take up any election-related legislation.
McConnell’s office said his views were captured in a five-page letter he wrote earlier this month to Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes that detailed “significant steps” the Trump administration had taken to defend against election meddling. He also noted the Senate has passed election security legislation since the 2016 election, including giving the Department of Justice more tools to investigate and prosecute individuals who hack into election systems.
Democrats have suggested McConnell doesn’t want to take up the legislation because it would embarrass President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly cast doubt on whether Russia interfered in the election, despite a unified assessment from U.S. intelligence agencies that it did.
Blunt has blamed House Democrats for McConnell’s hard-line stance, saying they overreached in January when they passed a sweeping measure focused on voting rights, campaign finance, and government ethics. Blunt accused Democrats in a July floor speech of trying to turn a serious issue into a “political football” and said that the Senate is committed to election security.