A Republican senator blocked a bill aimed at preventing election meddling in the United States, saying the measure, sponsored by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is actually designed to attack President Donald Trump. He also argued new sanctions would do more damage to the United States and its allies than Russia.
Crapo pointed out that the Senate already passed sanctions against Russia in 2017 and added that sanctions against Russia would hurt U.S. allies.
Van Hollen sought unanimous request from the Senate to fast-track the bill. Crapo objected and prevented it from moving forward.
“I think the record really needs to be set straight here. The picture that is being painted here is that the Republicans or President Trump or both don’t care about the fact that Russia is and has been trying to interfere in our election. And that for some reason our refusal to allow this specific act to move forward until it is fixed is in evidence of that,” Crapo, who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, said, according to the Idaho Press.
Van Hollen asked for consent to pass the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines, or DETER Act. He argued the bill would underscore that there would be a "very tough price to pay" if Russia meddles in American elections.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) co-sponsored the measure. The bill would allow the federal government to impose new sanctions on foreign countries assessed to have attempted to interfere in U.S. elections and would potentially penalize Russia.
"This has nothing to do with President Trump. This has to do with protecting our elections," Van Hollen said, The Hill reported. “The whole purpose of this bill is to have sanctions that are tough enough so that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin doesn’t interference or another foreign government doesn’t interfere,” he also said, reported the Washington Times.
The Departments of Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security issued a statement last month that Russia, China, and Iran could interfere in next year’s elections.
“Russia, China, Iran, and other foreign malicious actors all will seek to interfere in the voting process or influence voter perceptions,” a joint statement read from the agencies. “Adversaries may try to accomplish their goals through a variety of means, including social media campaigns, directing disinformation operations, or conducting disruptive or destructive cyberattacks on state and local infrastructure.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied interfering in the 2016 race. And while some U.S. officials said that Russia interfered in the last election, special counsel Robert Mueller found that President Donald Trump’s campaign did not collude with Russian assets, despite wall-to-wall media coverage and claims made by Democratic members of Congress.