Business as Usual: EAC Still Alive

Published Mon, Jun 27 2011 10:10 AM

Last week, the House of Representatives debated HR 672, a bill that would eliminate the inefficient Election Assistance Commission. The bill seemed to be a logical choice for people wanting to cut government waste by eliminating an inefficient government agency. However, the Democrats suspended House rules to require a two thirds vote to pass the bill, and were able to defeat the bill along party lines.

The bill proposed that the efficient functions the EAC does serve would be transferred to the Federal Elections Commission. Increasing the size of the FEC by less than ten people. It would eliminate the EAC, which has been the subject of two discriminatory lawsuits in ten years. Once, discriminating on the basis of political party, and again for discriminating based on past military service. While both of these discrimination lawsuits resulted in settlements costing the American taxpayers thousands of dollars, it did not seem to affect the EAC’s overall budget or staff salaries. Nearly half of the 54 person staff makes six figure salaries, as the EAC’s 2011 operating budget has risen to nearly $18 million.

The Democrats went to a lot of trouble to keep an agency that has completed four out of the five federally mandated election studies, has zeroed out its remaining election grants, and has been ruled obsolete by the National Association of Secretaries of State on two separate occasions.

During debate, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Gregg Harper summed up the reasons for elimination perfectly, saying:

This bill is a careful and thoughtful measure to close down a federal agency in a responsible way. To sustain an agency that has completed its assigned studies, dispersed its assigned grants, and fulfilled most of its mandate, is the definition of irresponsibility. We haven’t rushed through this process. We’ve held hearings. We’ve listened to numerous experts. We’ve kept and reassigned the programs that provide true value for election administrators. And now is simply the time to end the EAC and save American taxpayers at least $33 million dollars in the next five years. It doesn’t get any easier to find an example of wasteful spending. If we can’t do this, we might as well pack up and go home, because this is as obvious as it gets.

However, it appears the House should just pack up and go home. The House Democrats who failed to vote in favor of this bill failed to stop what has become the epitome of wasteful government spending by continuing to fund a useless and inefficient government agency.

Rep. Harper, disgusted with the vote, said:

Today’s failure to pass a simple bill eliminating the EAC, an agency that has long outlived its purpose and recklessly mismanages its resources, is frankly an insult to struggling taxpayers across the country. This is exactly what’s wrong with Washington and exactly what we need to fix. Congress must do its job and eliminate wasteful spending – starting with this glaring example. If we cannot do that, we shouldn’t be here.

Since the EAC is still alive it must attempt to conduct business as efficiently as it can. However, currently, the EAC does not even have three Commissioners necessary for a quorum to vote on matters presented to the agency. The Senate will attempt to rectify this on Wednesday, when they hold a hearing to receive testimony on the nominations of Gineen Bresso, Tom Hicks, and Myrna Perez for EAC Commissioner.

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