House Republicans have set up a Tuesday suspension vote to repeal the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which they say is an agency in search of a mission that should be terminated to reduce federal spending. But Democrats are rejecting these arguments, making it unclear whether the bill can pass by the necessary two-thirds vote.
Republicans say the EAC can be safely terminated because it has fulfilled its primary mission, which is to offer grants to states to replace outdated voting equipment, such as punchcard and lever-based machines. The EAC was established in 2002, soon after the controversial 2000 presidential election that involved several weeks of recounting votes in Florida and related legal challenges.
“Eliminating the EAC would save taxpayers $33 million over five years and is a key vote for Democrats who’ve claimed they want to cut unnecessary spending and begin to get our fiscal house in order,” a top GOP leadership aide told The Hill.
“Since 2005, when Congress intended to sunset the EAC, the size of the agency has more than doubled, while its programs continue to decline,” the aide added. “While its work diminishes, the agency spends over 50 percent of its budget on administrative costs.”
Under the bill, H.R. 672, any remaining necessary functions, such as setting voting system guidelines and testing and certification of voting systems, would be handled by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
But Democrats have opposed the bill, which means there may not be enough Democrats to support the bill to ensure its passage under a suspension of the rules. Suspension bills are usually non-controversial bills that can easily meet this threshold.
On Tuesday morning, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) sent out a whip notice encouraging all Democrats to vote against the bill.
“H.R. 672 is a reckless cut to a program that has served a valuable purpose since its creation,” Hoyer’s notice said. It added that Republicans rejected Democratic amendments in the House Administration Committee, and that the GOP is now “taking up this bill under suspension with no opportunity for amendments.”
“Members are urged to vote no,” it said.
The bill was also opposed earlier in the year by all three Democrats on the House Administration Committee. Committee members Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) wrote in a dissenting view in report language accompanying H.R. 672 that the legislation is simply an attempt to eliminate an agency that Republicans have “never supported.”