GOP Plan to Kill Election Assistance Commission Would Save $40 Million, CBO Says

Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., introduced a bill to eliminate the commission. Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., introduced a bill to eliminate the commission. Rogelio V. Solis / AP file photo

A long-standing Republican plan to eliminate the 15-year-old Election Assistance Commission would save the government $40 million from 2018-2022, according to a new score from the Congressional Budget Office.

A bill (H.R. 634) introduced by Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., which cleared the House Administration Committee on Feb. 7 in a 6-3 vote, would abolish the four-member EAC and transfer some of its responsibilities to the Federal Election Commission. Its contracts and agreements would be wound down by the Office of Management and Budget within 60 days of the bill’s enactment.

Created under the 2002 Help America Vote Act, the independent bipartisan commission with an $8 million budget develops guidance and voluntary voting system guidelines for states while serving as a national clearinghouse for issues related to election administration.

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“CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 634 would reduce discretionary costs by $40 million over the 2018-2022 period, assuming future appropriations are lower by the estimated amounts,” the office said in a March 1 analysis. “Enacting the bill would affect direct spending because we expect some EAC employees would retire earlier than they otherwise would; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures apply.”

Harper is a longtime champion of killing the commission, arguing that it was intended to be small and temporary but has doubled in size, with staffer earnings averaging $100,000. “The EAC has proven time and time again that what the agency knows how to do best is be reckless and irresponsible with taxpayer dollars,” he said in an earlier statement. “The need to eliminate the EAC is so great that the National Association of Secretaries of State, whose members have received the more than $3 billion distributed by the EAC, has passed two resolutions calling for Congress to dissolve the agency.”

But Rep. Robert Brady, D-Pa., the panel’s ranking member, told USA Today the commission is the only federal agency to offer such services and has an "important, valuable role. He cited an array of problems during the 2014 election, including long lines at some polls that they said the commission should investigate.

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