The Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday voted to advance two of President Trump’s nominees to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), giving the small federal agency a chance of reaching a quorum for the first time since March. During a meeting that lasted roughly a minute, the senators voted in favor of adding Donald Palmer and Benjamin Hovland to the commission, which was created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to help state and local officials administer elections. If approved by the full Senate, Palmer and Hovland — both former election officials — would bring the agency up from two to four commissioners. The EAC has been down to two commissioners — one short of a quorum — since March, when former commissioner Matt Masterson’s term expired. He has since joined the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), where he has worked on election security issues.
Officials at the agency have pointed to the small number of commissioners as holding the EAC back in its ability to help election officials, as it cannot take on major policy moves without at least three commissioners.
Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told reporters after the meeting that he believes that both nominees will move through the Senate together, and appeared hopeful that leadership will bring them up for a vote soon.
“Whatever it takes to get that commission to where it actually can function,” Blunt said.