Business as Usual: EAC Still Alive
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.