A key Senate panel is approving $250 million to help states beef up their election systems, freeing up the money after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came under criticism from Democrats for impeding separate election security legislation. McConnell's reluctance to legislate on election security has led some Democrats to refer to him as "Moscow Mitch."
The Kentucky Republican announced Thursday in a floor speech in advance of a Senate Appropriations Committee vote that he would support the funding, claiming the Trump administration has "made enormous strides" in protecting the nation's voting infrastructure.
"I am proud to have helped develop this amendment and to co-sponsor it in committee," McConnell said in his speech on the floor, noting that Congress has appropriated a total of $600 million dedicated to election security efforts since fiscal year 2018.
The committee's top Democrat, Patrick Leahy, said "funding election security grants is a matter of national security."
In his floor speech, McConnell praised the bipartisanship of the amendment, saying: "This is exactly the kind of positive outcome that is possible when we stop posturing for the press and let Chairman [Richard] Shelby and Senator Leahy conduct a bipartisan committee process."
An earlier version of a key spending measure did not include the money.
In July, McConnellto secure the nation's election system, declaring the effort partisan and insisted the Trump administration has already done much to secure the nation's elections.