Mr. McConnell has held fast to his position despite withering criticism from Democrats, and agitation from some in his party who want the Senate to move more modest, bipartisan legislation. The Democratic proposal, already passed by the House, would have given the states hundreds of millions of dollars in grants, mandated the use of backup paper ballots and required risk-limiting postelection audits.
“This is not a Democratic issue, a Republican issue,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “This is not a liberal issue, a moderate issue, a conservative issue. This is an issue of patriotism, of national security, of protecting the very integrity of American democracy, something so many of our forbears died for.”
“And what do we hear from the Republican side?” he said. “Nothing.”
While the report is not directly critical of either American intelligence agencies or the states, it described what amounted to a cascading intelligence failure, in which the scope of the Russian effort was underestimated, warnings to the states were too muted, and state officials either underreacted or, in some cases, resisted federal efforts to offer help.
Even today, after a two-and-a-half-year investigation, the committee conceded that “Russian intentions regarding U.S. election infrastructure remain unclear.” Moscow’s intelligence agencies — chiefly the G.R.U., Russia’s main military intelligence unit — may have “intended to exploit vulnerabilities in the election infrastructure during the 2016 elections and, for unknown reasons, decided not to execute those options.”
But more ominously, the report suggested that it may have been cataloging options “for use at a later date” — a possibility that officials of the National Security Agency, the Homeland Security Department and the F.B.I. say is their biggest worry.