Another senator joins bipartisan proposal for 'remote voting' during coronavirus pandemic

Blumenthal: 'I think we need to look into the possibility'

Sen. Blumenthal speaks on Friday
Sen. Blumenthal speaks on Friday
U.S. Senate
Updated: March 20, 2020 - 3:39pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) added his voice Friday to a bipartisan call for remote voting in the House and Senate during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think we need to look into the possibility. It's unprecedented, never been done before," Blumenthal, a member of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said in a teleconference with reporters.

The push to allow members of Congress to vote off Capitol Hill amid the spread of the highly contagious virus is being led by Sens. Rob Portman and Dick Durbin. The Ohio Republican and Illinois Democrat earlier this week introduced the bipartisan effort, which would allow remote voting during a national emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic.

Though Blumenthal expressed support for the resolution, he cautions that cybersecurity measures would need to be put in place.

"There have to be safeguards against any kind of mistakes or fraud but certainly both the House and the Senate should look into it," he said. 

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In a recent speech on the Senate floor, Portman said the U.S. Congress has "the ability to do it in a secure way, an encrypted way, in a way that would protect the fundamental right to vote and I think it’s important that we move forward with this."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Thursday that he expects the House to "adjust" its "voting procedures" to comply with the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coronavirus recommendations.

Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah) both announced earlier this week that they have tested positive for coronavirus, or COVID-19.

"No decisions have been made on exactly what these changes will be, but we will be discussing all options," Hoyer, the House's No. 2 Democrat, wrote in a letter to his colleagues. 

The Senate continues its debate over the $1 trillion phase three coronavirus stimulus package. 

In the teleconference call Friday that focused on domestic violence, Blumenthal said he will be "fighting" for more federal funding to support domestic violence non-profits and agencies as part of the coronavirus relief package.

"Literally every part [Connecticut] is covered by agencies that advocate for women who are victims of domestic violence, survivors who are threatened even now more than ever," he said. "We want to make sure they receive the support and serve they need and deserve."

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