Republicans have blocked a sweeping House-passed election and ethics reform bill on Wednesday, the latest of several failed attempts by Democrats to advance election security legislation ahead of 2020.
The ethics and elections reform measure, known as H.R. 1, would prevent election fraud by requiring paper ballots and standards for early voting.
The legislation passed the Democratic-controlled House in a 234-193 vote in March, and Democrats have been urging Republicans to take it up in the Senate ever since.
On Wednesday, Democratic Senators Jeff Merkley (Ore.) and Tom Udall (N.M.) tried to bring the measure for a vote.
“We must unite in defense of our electoral system and in defense of the sanctity of our democracy,” Udall said, according to The Hill.
Merkley argued that the bill was crucial “because everything else we care about … is going to fail if we let this chamber be controlled by powerful special interests through this corrupted system.”
But, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, objected to the bill’s passage, arguing that the legislation would “give the federal government unprecedented control over elections in this country.”
Under the Senate’s rules, any one senator can try to vote on or pass a bill, but any other senator can object to and block the legislation.
Udall tried to counter Blunt on Wednesday by arguing that the bill “supports states” and “puts the American people back in charge.”
Election security has become a point of contention during the Trump era, with House Democrats passing several election-related bills that have hit a wall in the GOP-controlled Senate.
Republicans blocked several election-related bills last week, including legislation to require campaigns to notify the FBI of offers of foreign assistance and a separate bill to make sure political advertisements on social media are subject to the same stricter rules as ads on television or radio.