Alexander Offers Amendment to Eliminate $14.75 Million in Funding for Election Assistance Commission That “Doesn’t Have Anything Left to Do”

Says 9-Year-Old Commission Has Already Fulfilled Its Functions; Its Authorization Expired in 2005

Posted on September 19, 2011

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“At a time when we’re scratching for pennies, the idea of spending $14.75 million on the Election Assistance Commission, which has nothing left to do, and whose beneficiaries have asked us to abolish it, I would respectfully suggest deserves another look.” – Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) offered an amendment at the Senate Appropriations Committee markup Thursday on the fiscal year 2012 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill that would eliminate the $14.75 million appropriated for the Election Assistance Commission, saying the continued funding of the 9-year-old, no-longer authorized commission “could be the first episode of an only-in-Washington television reality show.”

“We should go ahead and do what we ought to do, which is to say: ‘Thank you very much for your good work, now let’s move on to something else,’ and take that $14.75 million and use it to reduce the debt or spend it on some other priority,” Alexander said.

The transcript of Senator Alexander remarks follows:

“The bottom line is that this is a commission that doesn’t have anything else left to do. In the next year it will be spending $5.4 million in overhead to administer  $3.4 million in programs.

“Here’s the story: this came up after the 2000 election. Everyone was concerned about Bush versus Gore. So the movement in a bipartisan way in the Senate was, let’s have a commission to help states buy new voting machines. And the machines will be computer-driven, so we won’t have to worry about these hanging chads and all these written ballots. So a commission was set up, called the Election Assistance Commission, and it was given several responsibilities. The first was to distribute federal money to states to help them buy new voting machines. Well, it’s done that. All the money is distributed. The President says there’s no more money coming, so there’s nothing left to do there.

“The second thing was to develop voluntary voting system guidelines. That’s been done. They’ve been tested. There’s really nothing left to do there.

“Act as a clearinghouse. Well, they could do that or someone else could do that.

“So, they’ve given out their money. The guidelines are developed. The authorization for the Election Assistance Commission has expired. And the intended beneficiaries of this commission, which are the states and the secretaries of states—have asked us to abolish it.

“So this could be the first episode of an only-in-Washington television reality show. We should go ahead and do what we ought to do, which is to say: ‘Thank you very much for your good work, now let’s move on to something else and take that $14.75 million and use it to reduce the debt or spend it on some other priority.

“At the Rules Committee, we had some very fine nominees of the President to be members of the commission—they’re still pending—my suggestion to them was that they seem to be very good people. Why didn’t we ask the President to nominate them to a commission that has something useful to do?

“So, at a time when we’re scratching for pennies, the idea of spending $14.75 million on the Election Assistance Commission, which has nothing left to do, and whose beneficiaries have asked us to abolish it, I would respectfully suggest deserves another look.”

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