WASHINGTON – Democratic lawmakers erupted on the House floor Thursday as they pushed to send more money to states for election security.
"USA! USA!" the group chanted, following fiery speeches from Reps. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Steny Hoyer, D-Md.
The chanting was so loud that reporters standing outside of the chamber rushed to windows to see what was happening.
Quigley had introduced an appropriations bill amendment that would have provided $380 million in state grants for election security improvements. Republicans ultimately blocked the amendment.
Quigley pointed to Russian interference in U.S. elections, making note of last week's indictment that charged 12 Russian nationals with meddling in 2016.
He also criticized President Donald Trump for his acceptance this week of Russian President Vladimir Putin's denial that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election. Trump has since tried to quell the furor over those comments by saying he believed the conclusions from the U.S. intelligence community that Russia had meddled.
We now have the chance to do the right thing," Quigley said before the amendment's failure. "Equipped with the new revelations from the (special counsel Robert) Mueller investigation, and the realization that President Trump will do absolutely nothing to defend our election systems from foreign interference, with Russia attempting to cast out uncertainty and suspicion over the integrity of our election process, now is the time to double down on the efforts to prevent election hacking."
He continued: "The American people are watching, and we must ensure that we, unlike our president, are on the right side of history during this pivotal moment in our democracy."
While his speech drew applause, it was the impassioned plea from Hoyer, the House minority whip, that led to the chanting on the floor.
"This amendment responds by providing for us to partner with our states, to slam the door in the face of the Russian bear or any other adversary that seeks to steal the integrity of our elections," he said. "... Surely, we can rise above pandering to party and Putin to act on behalf of our freedom and our security."