A House committee voted on Tuesday to eliminate an independent election commission charged with helping states improve their voting systems as President Donald Trump erroneously claims widespread voter fraud cost him the popular vote. The party-line vote came less than two days after Trump vowed to set up a White House commission helmed by Vice President Mike Pence to pursue his accusations of election fraud. “We’re going to look at it very, very carefully,” Trump said of voter fraud in an interview with Fox News that aired Sunday. “It has to do with the registration, and when you look at the registration and you see dead people that have voted.” Reports that Trump told congressional leaders in a meeting last month that 3 to 5 million ballots were cast illegally during the 2016 race were met with discomfort on Capitol Hill. While top Republicans have refused to disavow his charges of election fraud, they haven’t pushed for action on the issue, which remains a low priority for congressional leadership.
The vote in the House Administration Committee underscored, once again, the political differences between the Republican president and the party’s rank-and-file. The GOP majority on the committee eliminated the Election Assistance Commission, which was created by Congress after the 2000 Florida recount to upgrade voting technology and provide election-related information to federal entities, state officials and election administrators.
Republicans, who led the effort to terminate the agency, say it’s a prime example of government waste. They’ve been introducing legislation to end the commission for years with little success.
“If we’re looking at reducing the size of government this is a perfect example of something that can be eliminated,” said Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., the committee chairman, after the bill passed on a 6-3 vote. “We don’t need fluff.”