[Pages S4815-S4816]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                           EXECUTIVE SESSION


                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will 
proceed to executive session to resume consideration of the following 
nomination, which the clerk will report.
  The legislative clerk read the nomination of Peter Joseph Phipps, of 
Pennsylvania, to be United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

                           Election Security

  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I stand here this afternoon in a state of 
disbelief. Last Wednesday, my colleagues and I in the Congress were 
briefed on the state of election security in America.
  I am prohibited from talking about the details of that classified 
briefing, but the message from my Republican colleagues after that 
elections security meeting was very clear: Nothing to see here. One 
Senator said it is clear the Federal Government is doing ``everything 
you can do.'' The top Republican on the House Homeland Security 
Committee said: ``I wouldn't say we've got a need for more election 
security legislation.'' A Member of the House Republican leadership 
said: ``The agencies have the tools they need, and I am confident they 
are addressing the threats.''
  It is case closed for those Republicans--mission accomplished. My 
Republican colleagues were just so satisfied that the foundation of our 
democracy is in good hands. Election security is not a problem for 
those colleagues I just quoted.
  It was to my enormous shock this weekend when I picked up my phone, 
and I read the following headline: ``Old Software makes new electoral 
systems ripe for hacking.''
  Over the weekend, I said: Gosh, that just can't possibly be right. 
After all, my Republican colleagues said after the classified briefing 
that election security issues were in good shape. I just kept reading, 
and as it turns out, according to an exhaustive analysis by the 
Associated Press, the vast majority of 10,000 election jurisdictions 
nationwide use election management systems that run on old software 
that is soon going to be out of date and ripe for exploitation by 
  According to the Associated Press, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, 
Florida, Iowa, Indiana, Arizona, and North Carolina, among others, are 
all at risk. Even the State of Georgia, which just passed legislation 
to buy new voting machines, is on track to buy equipment that suffers 
from this significant cyber security weakness. Worse, two of the three 
largest voting machine companies, ES&S and Hart, don't make election 
systems that are free from this vulnerability. Many election officials 
will be buying election systems that will be out of date the moment 
they start using it.
  I am reading this story, and I am thinking to myself: Maybe--just 
maybe--this Trump administration hasn't solved the election security 
  Now, colleagues, I am being a little bit disingenuous here. I have 
actually known about this problem for some time. In fact, I wrote to 
the Election Assistance Commission about it because, of course, our 
elections weren't secure last week, and they sure as heck aren't secure 
this week. Anybody who says otherwise is either selling you a voting 
machine or simply has a malicious intent toward our elections.
  Russia attacked our democracy on every front in 2016, including voter 
registration databases and election software vendors. I am a member of 
the Senate Intelligence Committee, and I can't talk about classified 
matters, but it is public record that there were attacks on our 
election infrastructure in 2018.
  Our colleague Senator Rubio of Florida even said that hackers were 
``in a position'' to alter voter rolls in 2016. In April, the FBI 
Director said that 2018 was, ``just kind of a dress rehearsal for the 
big show in 2020.''
  I will say, as I have been saying at home at townhall meetings across 
my home State, that in 2020 I believe the hostile foreign actors are 
going to make 2016 look like small potatoes, and I am not just talking 
about the Russians here.
  What the Associated Press revealed this weekend should be chilling 
for anybody fighting to protect our elections from foreign 
interference, but it is certainly not the first indication Americans 
have gotten that our elections are vulnerable.
  Last year, the journalist, Kim Zetter, and the New York Times 
reported that ES&S had installed remote access software and wireless 
modems in election equipment for years. I believe that is about the 
worst thing you can do in terms of election security in America, short 
of putting American ballot boxes on a Moscow street.
  Special Counsel Robert Mueller revealed in his report that an 
election software vendor was actually hacked by Russia in the summer of 
2016. The public still doesn't know enough about what happened there or 
what the government did to investigate. This is another area where I am 
seeking to excavate the facts. My colleagues, particularly my colleague 
from Minnesota, Senator Klobuchar, and my colleague from Rhode Island, 
Senator Reed, are doing the same.
  VR Systems, the company Mr. Mueller was referring to, sold e-
pollbooks to a county in North Carolina. I am talking now about the 
systems that workers used to check voters in at a precinct. It happened 
that several of the VR Systems e-pollbooks used by Durham County in 
North Carolina malfunctioned on election day in 2016. The problem was 
so bad that one precinct had to shut down completely for several hours.
  Last month, I asked the FBI what happened; is anybody investigating? 
It sure looks like no Federal Agency has been out there looking at 
these malfunctioning e-pollbooks. It wasn't until last month that the 
Department of Homeland Security announced it would finally perform a 
forensic examination of the Durham County machines. That is not good 
enough. It is critical to secure our political parties, our campaigns, 
and the votes of Americans.
  In 2015 and 2016, Russia hacked two Democratic campaign committees. 
Russian hackers also stole emails from John Podesta, Secretary 
Clinton's campaign manager. The Russian Government then leaked 
Democratic emails to influence the Presidential and, reportedly, House 
races in six States.
  As I have emphasized at every part of my investigation, every part of 
my efforts, this is not a problem reserved for one political party. The 
National Republican Party committees have also all been hacked in the 
past, as well as the campaigns of Senator Graham and our late colleague 
John McCain.
  Political campaigns don't have the expertise or resources to protect 
themselves from foreign government hackers. They ought to be in a 
position to get assistance, and if Congress doesn't act, they are going 
to get hacked again in 2020.
  That is why I introduced legislation earlier this year, the Federal 
Campaign Cybersecurity Assistance Act, to secure campaigns and State 
parties. This would apply to both Democrats and Republicans. The bill 
turns the party committees, like the Democratic National Committee and 
the Republican National Committee, into an ``IT department'' for their 
campaigns, State parties, and candidates. The parties will be able to 
give campaigns professionally managed, secured laptops, cell phones, 
and emails, which are much harder to hack. I think it is in the 
interest of our country, voters, Democrats, and Republicans to pass 
that bill.
  I am going to close my remarks where I began, this extraordinary 
information that was compiled by the Associated Press that demonstrates 
that out-of-date software is going to be

[[Page S4816]]

used by election officials all over the country unless something is 
done about it. As a result, I have asked the Election Assistance 
Commission what they are going to do to stop the proliferation of out-
of-date, insecure software.
  A lot of people tell me, don't stay up waiting for much.
  Earlier this year, I asked the Department of Homeland Security how 
many States used voting machines with old, insecure software on 
Election Day in November of 2018. They said they didn't know. I will 
say it again. The Agency in charge of protecting our election 
infrastructure against cyber threats has no idea how many vulnerable 
voting machines are out there right now. That is a big problem.
  An even bigger problem is the inadequate laws. Right now, there are 
no mandatory Federal cyber security standards for elections. There is 
no law or regulation that says States can't use insecure machines. It 
is perfectly legal for the biggest voting machine company in America--
and these voting machine companies basically think they are above the 
law; they wouldn't even answer basic questions when I asked them--to 
sell a small county equipment that every cyber security expert in 
America knows is insecure. It is perfectly legal for a county clerk to 
put the outcome of a Presidential election at risk by buying insecure 
  I will just say to my colleagues, I don't think this has anything to 
do with Democrats or Republicans. I believe it is an out-and-out 
scandal--an out-and-out scandal that does a disservice to our country 
and particularly the sacred right to make sure that all Americans can 
vote and have their vote counted.
  Congress has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into election 
technology since 2016, but without required cyber security standards, a 
huge portion of that money is going to go towards voting machines and 
election systems that are not much better than the insecure systems 
they are replacing.
  The Congress must do better. Voluntary standards or just saying to 
the local governments ``We are just going to let you do your own 
thing'' will not cut it on cyber security. It is up to the Congress to 
get serious, finally, about providing for the security of our 
  I have been pushing hard for hand-marked paper ballots and risk-
limiting audits as key defenses against the hackers. The hackers are, 
in effect, burglars out there knocking on windows just looking for an 
opportunity to exploit. We need a stronger defense against these 
hackers, and it is critical.
  In addition to the hand-marked paper ballots and the risk-limiting 
audits, it is critical for Congress to pass legislation giving the 
Federal Government the authority to require basic cyber security for 
election infrastructure. In my view, anything less is waiving a white 
flag to foreign hackers.
  By blocking any and all election security legislation, I believe 
Donald Trump and the majority here in the Senate are in effect rolling 
out the red carpet for all of the hostile foreign actors I have 
mentioned here and saying: Look, there are holes in our cyber security. 
Come on in, and interfere in our democracy.
  We are better than that. I am going to be working with Democrats and 
Republicans to ensure that--especially in light of the developments 
that were reported on just in the last 72 hours about the out-of-date 
software that we are seeing in our voting machines all across the 
country--I am going to work with Democrats and Republicans to put the 
security and the integrity of our votes--a process that is sacred in 
our country--first.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  (Ms. ERNST assumed the Chair.)
  Mrs. HYDE-SMITH. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the 
order for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Boozman). Without objection, it is so 

                             Cloture Motion

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Pursuant to rule XXII, the Chair lays before 
the Senate the pending cloture motion, which the clerk will state.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

                             Cloture Motion

       We, the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the 
     provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, 
     do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the nomination 
     of Peter Joseph Phipps, of Pennsylvania, to be United States 
     Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit.
         Mitch McConnell, Roger F. Wicker, John Barrasso, David 
           Perdue, James E. Risch, Mike Crapo, Roy Blunt, Johnny 
           Isakson, Shelley Moore Capito, Pat Roberts, John 
           Cornyn, John Hoeven, Steve Daines, John Boozman, Thom 
           Tillis, Kevin Cramer, Richard Burr.

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. By unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum 
call has been waived.
  The question is, Is it the sense of the Senate that debate on the 
nomination of Peter Joseph Phipps, of Pennsylvania, to be United States 
Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit, shall be brought to a close?
  The yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule.
  The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk called the roll.
  Mr. THUNE. The following Senators are necessarily absent: the Senator 
from Kansas (Mr. Moran), the Senator from Kentucky (Mr. Paul), and the 
Senator from Nebraska (Mr. Sasse).
  Further, if present and voting, the Senator from Kansas (Mr. Moran) 
would have voted ``yea.''
  Mr. DURBIN. I announce that the Senator from Colorado (Mr. Bennet), 
the Senator from New Jersey (Mr. Booker), the Senator from New York 
(Mrs. Gillibrand), and the Senator from Minnesota (Ms. Klobuchar) are 
necessarily absent.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber 
desiring to vote?
  The yeas and nays resulted--yeas 53, nays 40, as follows:

                      [Rollcall Vote No. 204 Ex.]


     Scott (FL)
     Scott (SC)


     Cortez Masto
     Van Hollen

                             NOT VOTING--7

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. On this vote, the yeas are 53, the nays are 
  The motion is agreed to.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The majority leader.