The big spending bill currently speeding through Congress will allocate about $380 million to a new fund designed to help local election officials upgrade their systems, a senior U.S. official told CyberScoop.
The money would be distributed by the Election Administration Commission (EAC), an independent agency. The move comes after the Senate Intelligence Committee announced Tuesday a list of recommendations for individual states to improve their cybersecurity posture ahead of the 2o18 midterm elections. Senior U.S. intelligence officials predict that Russia will once again target the U.S. election this year, perhaps similar to what occurred in 2016.
Lawmakers are expected to release the spending bill — a $1.3 trillion “ombnibus” appropriations measure covering most federal agencies through the end of fiscal 2018 — early Wednesday afternoon. Votes are expected on the legislation soon, because current government funding only lasts through Friday at midnight.
The EAC fund would represent one of the first major steps taken by Congress to protect the 2018 elections. A number of bills intended to do the same have stalled over the last several months.
The new fund would help election officials in states across the country work with the EAC to purchase new voting equipment and also organize training seminars to prepare for potential meddling.
It’s not exactly clear when the funding would be made available to states. The 2018 midterms will take place in November, but primary races are already ongoing.