7:13 PM EDT

Blake Randolph Farenthold, R-TX 27th

Mr. FARENTHOLD. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks and to include extraneous material on the bill under consideration.

7:13 PM EDT

Gregg Harper, R-MS 3rd

Mr. HARPER. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

As we move forward on the difficult job of securing our Nation's financial future, the Congress will face many difficult decisions. Programs will have to be cut, and some even eliminated. All of those programs are there because someone wants them. We have to look carefully at each one and decide whether the benefit it creates is worth the cost of maintaining it.

After more than 2 years of hearings, investigations and oversight, the Committee on House Administration has identified not just a program but a Federal agency that we cannot justify to the taxpayers. That agency, the Election Assistance Commission, should be eliminated.

Mr. Speaker, while the House is going to be making some very difficult spending decisions in the future, this is actually a clear and easy choice. The EAC was created in 2002 by the Help America Vote Act. HAVA passed the House with a large bipartisan majority. One hundred seventy-two Republicans voted for the bill that created the EAC. Its creation was a bipartisan choice, and so should be its termination. One of the primary reasons the EAC was created was to distribute money to States to update

voting equipment and voter registration systems. The EAC has accomplished that, paying out over $3 billion to States for those purposes. With our deep debt and deficit, there almost certainly will be no more money for the EAC to distribute, meaning that that function is complete.

Another of the EAC's main functions, conducting research on election issues, is also complete. The agency has completed all of 19 planned election management guidelines as well as the 21 planned quick start guides. It has completed four of the five studies required under HAVA, and the fifth is tied up in an interagency controversy, making it unlikely that it will ever be finished.

The EAC also maintains a clearinghouse for election officials to share experiences working with voting systems, and it operates a program to develop voluntary guidelines for voting systems, test voting systems against those guidelines, and certify that systems comply with those guidelines. Thirty-five States and territories use the Federal testing and certification system in some way to decide what voting systems their election officials can purchase and use. Unlike the grants and research programs

that are now obsolete, the clearinghouse and the testing and certification programs provide continuing value for State and local election officials.

Against that backdrop, we have to look at the reality of what has happened to the EAC. When it was created by HAVA, the EAC was a small agency authorized for 3 years to spend up to $10 million per year. That was 9 years ago. The agency is still there, and its last full-time, full-year appropriation was for almost $18 million. Since a staff ceiling was removed in 2007, the agency has doubled in size, and this doubling came despite the fact that many of the EAC's responsibilities were completed

or diminished. The average salary at the EAC is over $100,000. It has an executive director, a chief operating officer, a chief financial officer, and an accounting director. In its budget request for 2012, the EAC proposed to spend 51.7 percent of its budget on management and administration costs. Mr. Speaker, that bears repeating. The EAC planned to spend more than half of its budget on overhead. An agency with that plan is an agency that should be eliminated.

The need to eliminate the EAC is so great that the National Association of Secretaries of State, a bipartisan group, whose members have received the more than $3 billion distributed by the EAC, has passed two resolutions calling for Congress to dissolve the agency. In 2005 and again in 2010, the Secretaries of State asked us to do what I am asking this House to support today.

Beyond simply being an agency with an increasing size and a dwindling purpose, the EAC has proven time and time again that what the agency knows how to do best is to be reckless and irresponsible with taxpayer dollars. In the short time I have served on the Committee on House Administration, we have learned of two different cases where legal claims were filed against the EAC for discrimination against candidates for the position of general counsel. The first case involved discrimination based

on the candidate's political affiliation. The second involved discrimination based on the candidate's service in the military. Political neutrality and assistance to military and overseas voters are values the EAC should promote, not undermine.

[Time: 19:20]

On top of that, these cases are expensive for the taxpayers.

In the development of this bill, we have sought out and received a considerable amount of input from election officials and others, in hearings at the committee and other settings. That input has allowed us to improve this bill as we have moved forward. Perhaps most importantly, we added a Guidelines Review Board that gives election officials and others a formal seat at the table when voting system guidelines are developed. This board streamlines two existing boards into a single, smaller one

but preserves the ability of States and local election officials to stay involved directly.

Before I close, I would like to thank Chairman Hall from the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. He has worked closely with us as a partner in developing this bill. I appreciate his efforts to improve the bill and to bring it to the floor.

This bill is a careful and thoughtful measure to close down a Federal agency in a responsible way. To sustain an agency that has completed its assigned studies, dispersed its assigned grants, and fulfilled most of its mandates is the definition of irresponsibility. We haven't rushed through this process. We've held hearings. We've listened to numerous experts. We've kept and reassigned the programs that provide true value for election administrators. And now is simply the time to end the EAC

and save American taxpayers at least $33 million in the next 5 years.

It doesn't get any easier to find an example of wasteful government spending. If we can't do this, we might as well pack up and go home because this is as obvious as it gets.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

7:22 PM EDT

Charlie Gonzalez, D-TX 20th

Mr. GONZALEZ. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to H.R. 672, and I yield myself 5 minutes.

Supporters of the bill once told us that this would save $14 million each year. I'm not sure how they came up with that number. What we do know is that when Ranking Member Brady asked the FEC if they could handle the responsibilities of EAC, this is what they said: Sure, if you give us more money. So this bill would take money from an agency they don't like and give it to an agency that no one likes. It will take money from an agency that has met many challenges and has improved its

operations in the past few years, and it will give it to one on the opposite path, one that has become only more dysfunctional in recent years.

But H.R. 672 doesn't move all of EAC's functions to the FEC. Some of the best ones simply go away. So let's say that H.R. 672 will save the Federal Government $6.6 million a year. That's great. Unless you happen to live in a State. This is just another example of shifting the costs to the States. Well, we lose the efficiencies of having a central clearinghouse for information, so maybe this isn't just cost shifting but cost increasing, because no matter what we do, our States have to run elections

every year, often twice a year.

The EAC doesn't run elections. That's not its job. It assists the State and local election officials so that they can run elections better and for less. And local election officials have written in from across the country in praise of the EAC and opposition to this bill. H.R. 672 would eliminate the one Federal agency that's focused on finding best practices for elections. That will make it that much harder for the supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County, Florida, to learn that the registrar

of voters in Fresno County, California, figured out a way to process paper ballots so they would run more smoothly, representing a 25 percent savings in election costs.

In my home, Bexar County, the elections administrator, Jacqui Callanen, learned from an EAC instructional video a new technique that will save [Page: H4351]

our county $100,000 per year. That's $100,000 in savings for one county, from one EAC instructional video, and we have more than 8,000 election jurisdictions in the United States.

But the savings don't stop there. The recount from Minnesota's 2008 Senate race was estimated to cost the State as much as $5 million and the candidates around $20 million. Worse, the people of Minnesota were

deprived of one of their Senators for 6 of the most turbulent months in recent history. If the EAC can prevent the need for such recounts and reduce the costs and time involved in others, how much is that worth? EAC has taken tremendous steps to help our States ensure that our citizens, especially the disabled, are able to exercise their constitutional right and civic responsibility to participate in our electoral system. Now, how much is that worth?

Are the proponents of this bill willing to put a pricetag on that? Mr. Speaker, we spend millions of dollars and put our young men and women in harm's way, promoting and protecting our great democracy. Is it really too much to spend $6.6 million here at home?

When H.R. 672 was marked up in committee, I offered a very simple amendment. It would have had GAO look into whether the bill would actually save money, including whether savings at the Federal level would simply be the result of pushing costs onto the States, and whether voters would be disenfranchised, giving us the time to reconsider if the results were negative. I hadn't anticipated that the bill would reach the floor with no chance to offer an amendment. When we defeat this, when it comes

up for a vote, and if the Republican leadership should decide to bring H.R. 672 back to the floor under a rule, I fully intend to offer that amendment again. If the supporters of H.R. 672 are so confident of the bill's savings and innocuous nature, I can't see why they would object to my amendment.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

7:27 PM EDT

Dan Lungren, R-CA 3rd

Mr. DANIEL E. LUNGREN of California. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this legislation. You know, Mr. Speaker, my mom was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and listening to her stories about what transpired in the political process when she was growing up there, I used to think that the only place that you could find immortality in this world was on the voting rolls of Cook County. But I find here today that Ronald Reagan was right: Immortality is in the name of a Federal Government program.

This was supposed to be a temporary program. It was supposed to give temporary assistance to the States to make sure they could comply with HAVA, and it has done that. It has done that. It has let out all the money, billions of dollar that go to the States to assist in doing that. Its time has come and gone.

Mr. Speaker, if we cannot see that in these very difficult budget times we have to make some difficult decisions with respect to looking at programs to see if they've exhausted their usefulness, then we'll never be able to respond appropriately to what our constituents expect of us.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation, carefully drafted, allows for those small elements of this agency to be transferred to the FEC with funds to carry out those responsibilities. The argument that the gentleman has just made, that somehow the FEC is not up to snuff, is not an argument I would think that the gentleman would support to somehow get rid of the FEC. We are giving them some responsibilities with funds, and hopefully they can carry those out.

The idea that we can stand here with a straight face and argue that an agency which spends over 50 percent of its total funding on overhead--and be able to say that to the American people is not only disappointing, but it's dispiriting, because it suggests to the American people that we are incapable of looking carefully at agencies and departments to see when, in fact, they are doing a job that continues and needs to be done, or when they have finished their function and, therefore, no longer

need to exist.

Now, the Secretaries of State have spoken rather forcefully before our committee with respect to the fact that they no longer need the assistance of this particular arm of the Federal Government.

[Time: 19:30]

How often do we have people who come to us and say, We don't need this assistance anymore? Not very often. Should we ignore that in this particular case?

Admittedly, this is a small amount of money. It's only in the millions. Where I come from, that's important. Millions mean a lot. This is more important, though, as a symbol or a signal as to what we will do.

Look, if we had all the money in the world, maybe we wouldn't have this on the floor. We don't have all the money in the world, although we've tried to prove that we can print all the money in the world. The fact of the matter is folks back home want us somehow to get our house in order. That's the House of Representatives, and it's the house that we call the United States Federal Government. This may be a small room in that house, but, nonetheless, it is one that needs to be addressed.

The gentleman from Mississippi has done an excellent job of holding hearings on this matter, hearing from all parties on this, and has come up with this legislation. The suggestion that somehow by disestablishing the EAC we are going to penalize the military is something that I cannot understand very well at all. The Federal Voting Assistance Program under the DOD will continue to implement the MOVE Act, as they have very ably done since the passage of this bill in the last Congress. If you really

examine it, the EAC has a very small role in the process, and that role will be continued after the EAC has been shut down.

States are looking at us to see whether we can give them some relief, and, in most cases, we are not going to be able to give the States some relief because, frankly, we don't have the money.

Businesses are looking at us, those who are in businesses, to see if we will understand the mistakes we've made in the past and do what they have to do, that is, to try to become more effective and more efficient. Our constituents are looking at us as they look for some glimmer that we understand the terrible fiscal situation we find ourselves in. And they're looking for just the littlest, the smallest suggestion that we are going to be serious about the fiscal mess that we find ourselves in.

This is a small start, but it is a start. And again, as the gentleman from Mississippi said, if we can't do this now, when can we do it? When you have a demonstrable record of an agency that's outlived its usefulness, you have to act. That's all we're attempting to do. I would hope that we would have a near unanimous vote in support of the gentleman's bill.

7:33 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

I want to rise in opposition to this bill.

The gentleman from Mississippi knows as well as any of us that the right to vote is sacred. Access to the polling places ought to be sacred. Every American ought to be facilitated in voting, and every American vote needs to count. That's what the Help America Vote Act was all about.

Bob Ney of Ohio, who was chairman of the House Administration Committee subsequent to the 2000 election, and I worked on this legislation. And as has been pointed out, it passed overwhelmingly in a bipartisan way.

The right to vote is at the foundation of our democracy, so it is extremely disappointing that this bill would undermine our Nation's ability to protect that right. From 1789 to 2000, the Federal Government had elections which it did not pay for nor did it administer. Now, under this bill, we're still not paying for elections and we're still not administering them, not this bill that's on the floor. But under our scheme of things, the elections are still run by States and counties and localities.

[Page: H4352]

What this agency was designed to do was to bring the

best information possible so that elections could be run in the best way possible. There are over, I think, 120 million voters in America. So this is 20 cents for each one of those voters, to make sure that they have access and that their vote is counted and counted properly. Eliminating funding for the Election Assistance Commission would harm the integrity of our elections in 2012 and for years to come. Voters deserve assurance that their vote will count.

In 2000, our democracy was blemished by our flawed election systems. This was a response, passed in a bipartisan fashion. Regardless of how we felt about the outcome of that election, Republicans and Democrats agreed that the Federal Government had a duty to improve election systems so that every qualified citizen's vote counts.

Now, the FEC has a responsibility, and that is to monitor contributions and expenditures of political candidates, not to run elections. They had somewhat that responsibility before we created the Election Assistance Commission in HAVA, and they did not carry it out. Why? Because they neither had the resources nor the time to do so.

We need to provide States the financial and informational resources to upgrade their voting registration systems, train their poll workers, and improve access for disabled voters. The result was the bipartisan Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, which I was proud to help write.

7:37 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. I thank the gentleman for yielding the additional minute.

The EAC is not perfect. There is no agency, including the one we're going to fund this week that spends almost $700 billion--that's not perfect. Should we fix it where it's broken? Yes. Should we do that to every agency? Yes. Is it our responsibility to do so? Yes. But to eliminate the very agency constructed to ensure that we do not repeat the travesty of 2000 is to retreat from ensuring fair, open, accessible elections where every vote will count.

I urge my colleagues to vote against this piece of legislation. If, in fact, the EAC needs fixing, let's fix it. That's the responsibility of the House Administration Committee on which I served for, I think, 17 years. You ought to do that if you think this is not working correctly, because what it does is absolutely essential for democracy and for America.

Defeat this legislation.

7:39 PM EDT

Gregg Harper, R-MS 3rd

Mr. HARPER. I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from Georgia, Dr. Gingrey, chairman of the Committee on House Administration's Subcommittee on Oversight.

7:39 PM EDT

Phil Gingrey MD, R-GA 11th

Mr. GINGREY of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H.R. 672, and I commend my good friend from Mississippi (Mr. Harper) for his authorship.

The distinguished minority whip, the former Democratic majority leader, just made the statement essentially saying that few things are more important in this country than ensuring that every American citizen's right to vote is protected, and the EAC helps America to vote.

[Time: 19:40]

We agree on this side of the aisle, Mr. Speaker. We agree that few things are more important than ensuring Americans can vote. However, the Election Assistance Commission's support in this area is negligible at best.

In 2005, and again in 2010, the National Association of Secretaries of State, the individuals in the States tasked with overseeing elections, called for the dissolution of the EAC. The committee heard firsthand testimony from Secretaries of State that affirmed the passion with which they support this bill, the Harper bill, and how useless they feel this agency has become.

When those who oversee elections call for the dissolution of an agency supposedly meant to be supporting their efforts, Congress should listen.

But no, it's like President Ronald Reagan once said, and I quote him: ``No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this Earth.''

Mr. Speaker, the minority whip just basically said the same thing, that once an agency is created, even after it's performed its function, it's done its duty, it's time to eliminate it. And we're talking about millions of dollars.

This is an important bill. As the gentleman from Mississippi so clearly stated, if we can't do this, what can we do in regard to reducing unnecessary spending of the taxpayer dollars so we'll have those precious dollars for other more important matters to help our States?

So I ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, please, let's have a unanimous vote in support.

7:42 PM EDT

Rush Holt, D-NJ 12th

Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the so-called Election Support Consolidation and Efficiency Act. This would eliminate, as we have heard, the Election Assistance Commission.

And let me remind my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, there is nothing more crucial to democracy than guaranteeing the integrity, fairness, accessibility and accuracy of elections. Democracy works only if the citizens believe it does. The system must work, and the people must believe that it works.

But voting shouldn't be an act of blind faith. It should be an act of record. The EAC helps maintain the integrity of the American electoral process. And too many people across the country lack confidence in the legitimacy of election results, and the dismantling of the EAC would further erode that faith that is so essential to democracy.

How quickly Members seem to have forgotten the Florida recount with its hanging chads and pregnant chads and uncertainty counts of ballots to determine voter intent. The 2000 election exposed critical flaws and inconsistencies in how elections were conducted and, in its wake, Congress, under the leadership of Representative Hoyer and others, approved the Help America Vote Act to assist State and local jurisdictions.

Yet, the legislation we're considering today willfully ignores this history. The bill closes the EAC, transfers some of its vital functions to the Election Commission, an agency that doesn't have the capability or the expertise to do the job and has other important work to do.

This bill takes this in exactly the wrong direction. While millions of Americans are casting their votes on unauditable voting machines and the results of many elections are not audited, eliminating the EAC would increase the risks that our electoral process will be compromised by voter system irregularities. Can we afford to take that risk? Certainly not.

H.R. 672 is another example of the desire of this Chamber that seems to exist to cut recklessly valuable services, rather than engage in the hard work of making government work at its best. [Page: H4353]

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this misguided bill.

7:44 PM EDT

Rush Holt, D-NJ 12th

Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the so-called Election Support Consolidation and Efficiency Act. This would eliminate, as we have heard, the Election Assistance Commission.

And let me remind my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, there is nothing more crucial to democracy than guaranteeing the integrity, fairness, accessibility and accuracy of elections. Democracy works only if the citizens believe it does. The system must work, and the people must believe that it works.

But voting shouldn't be an act of blind faith. It should be an act of record. The EAC helps maintain the integrity of the American electoral process. And too many people across the country lack confidence in the legitimacy of election results, and the dismantling of the EAC would further erode that faith that is so essential to democracy.

How quickly Members seem to have forgotten the Florida recount with its hanging chads and pregnant chads and uncertainty counts of ballots to determine voter intent. The 2000 election exposed critical flaws and inconsistencies in how elections were conducted and, in its wake, Congress, under the leadership of Representative Hoyer and others, approved the Help America Vote Act to assist State and local jurisdictions.

Yet, the legislation we're considering today willfully ignores this history. The bill closes the EAC, transfers some of its vital functions to the Election Commission, an agency that doesn't have the capability or the expertise to do the job and has other important work to do.

This bill takes this in exactly the wrong direction. While millions of Americans are casting their votes on unauditable voting machines and the results of many elections are not audited, eliminating the EAC would increase the risks that our electoral process will be compromised by voter system irregularities. Can we afford to take that risk? Certainly not.

H.R. 672 is another example of the desire of this Chamber that seems to exist to cut recklessly valuable services, rather than engage in the hard work of making government work at its best. [Page: H4353]

I urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this misguided bill.

7:45 PM EDT

Mike Coffman, R-CO 6th

Mr. COFFMAN of Colorado. In listening to the opposition, the statements against this legislation, it would make it sound like the EAC, the Election Assistance Commission, is a branch of the Justice Department, that it's there to enforce the right to vote. It doesn't do any of that at all.

The primary goal for the Election Assistance Commission was, after the Florida recount, the problems there in the 2000 election, that according to the Help America Vote Act, that the States such as Colorado that I was the Secretary of State in, were going to have to have a voter registration system that would be interactive, interactive database, to make sure that there wasn't fraud, that there wasn't duplicative registrations; and that the EAC would be the conduit for Federal resources grants

to States to be able to facilitate that, and to make sure that that was carried out by the States. And that was for the 2008 Presidential election, long since done, long accomplished.

As to the EAC, which has no ability to mandate anything to States, but as an advisory tool, election officials across this country don't utilize it. There are associations that provide those best practices at every level of elections, from the county clerks to the Secretaries of State. And so this is an agency who's primary purpose is long since over with, and we can transfer the remaining function over to the Federal Elections Commission. And I rise in strong support for H.R. 672 and would urge

its passage.

7:47 PM EDT

Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX 18th

Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, it is disappointing that we are here in the dark of night discussing the issues of election fairness. I would almost imagine it would be somewhat similar to taking up the Voting Rights Act, the one of 1965, in the dark of night.

We can speak lightly about this, but I will tell you that every election time someone is denied the right to vote in the United States. I hope Americans are paying attention tonight to realize that even though it is represented that the change and eliminating the particular agency that deals with the questions of fairness, the Election Assistance Commission, we're actually not saving money, and passing the responsibilities off to the Federal Elections Commission.

Why could we not have accepted the amendment of the distinguished gentleman from Texas (Mr. Gonzalez), who said let's do it right. Let's have a general accountable study and know what we're doing and if we're taking away the rights of those who are desiring to vote.

I will tell you that the purging of voters that occurs in Texas and other places around the Nation, and in particular in Harris County, is not a minor issue. The distraction of African American male voters in Florida during the 2000 election is not simply a distraction.

And so the question is, even if this deals with interactive data, let me suggest to you that it is an important tool for local government because without this particular commission, those resources or those responsibilities and the finding of the money will be on local governments. So now we're doing unfunded mandates.

I would simply say that it was painful to pass the health bill.

7:49 PM EDT

Sheila Jackson Lee, D-TX 18th

Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. This legislation, Mr. Speaker, was passed in the backdrop of a great deal of emotionalism.

[Time: 19:50]

I am not here to point fingers, but I lived through that emotional time. It is history, my colleagues know that it is, but they know how painful it was to be engaged in hanging chads and discussions about who was turned away from the voting booth--and also the discrepancies on how we count our votes in America, the most sophisticated Nation in the world, the Nation that others look to and say, how do we promote democracy?

Why would we stand on the floor of the House at 8 o'clock tonight and deny democracy? I ask my colleagues to oppose this legislation and to stand for democracy and fairness.

7:50 PM EDT

Charlie Gonzalez, D-TX 20th

Mr. GONZALEZ. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

First of all, I would like to address some of the remarks made by the proponents of this particular bill. First, I know it was not intentional to mischaracterize the words of Mr. Hoyer. He did not state that the EAC should have an eternal life. What he said is, it was essential, in its present form, in the function that it provides. I think he also indicated that everything is not a simple budget or mathematical problem. There is cost benefit to look into and see what the true benefit

is for the investment of that Federal dollar.

Much has been said about the National Association of Secretaries of State coming out with a resolution. That is not news. From the very inception they opposed the creation of the Election Assistance Commission, and on a regular basis they would pass a resolution expressing that opposition. But I do wish to point out that the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, Secretary of State of Minnesota Mark Ritchie--whose State knows something about the cost of problematic elections--testified

before our committee on March 31 that he was certainly not in favor of terminating the Election Assistance Commission.

I also wish to read from a letter that we received today at about 4 p.m. to a House Administration election staffer:

Dear Mr. Khalil, I am the election director of Harford County Board of Elections in northeastern Maryland. I am a Republican and have been active in the Republican Party since 1968. I am also the Republican member of the Standards Board of the Election Assistance Commission.

As a representative of a local board of elections, we are very isolated and depend on the EAC as a clearinghouse of information and resources. The EAC has been most helpful to local boards of elections in supporting our election administration and providing guidance in future elections. The FEC is too political and cannot do and perform as the Election Assistance Commission.

The passage of H.R. 672 will be a loss to local boards of election nationwide. We are the grassroots of the election community, and we need the support of the EAC.

In closing, we will in fact defeat this tomorrow. I'm hoping that my amendment will be ruled in order and that we will have a chance to really look at the potential effect this bill will have on local election officials. Not to politicize it. This is not about Republicans or about Democrats; it's about how effective and efficient our local election officials can be. With the assistance of the only clearinghouse, the only commission with the expertise and the dedication to that single goal. There

will be no other agency like it, there will be no other commission like it, and it's well worth the investment that we make on a yearly basis to assure the integrity and the efficiency of our local elections. I don't know of any better investment.

I understand that we have to tighten our belts. Do we do it, though, at the cost of the efficient running of our elections, the very basis for our democracy?

I commend the Members on the other side of the aisle for this effort, but it is truly misguided. It's not based on facts or the realities on the ground. And almost every local election official will echo those sentiments today.

I oppose this bill. I will be voting against it. And I ask my colleagues to please oppose this bill.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

7:55 PM EDT

Gregg Harper, R-MS 3rd

Mr. HARPER. Mr. Speaker, I find it very interesting that the statement was just made that the FEC is too political to take on the responsibilities of [Page: H4354]

the EAC. That's an amazing statement in light of the fact that the EAC has been sued for political discrimination--the very agency that's supposed to take care of fairness and do things in these issues gets sued for political discrimination. So that is hardly an argument to say that it can't be transferred.

We are looking at transferring the essential functions of the EAC over to the FEC with the personnel and funding that's necessary to do that job. It's a very responsible and adult thing to do to take care not only of spending issues, but we have an agency that is spending 51.7 percent of its budget on administration and management, not in program administration, not in taking care of grants, those have come and gone. So here we are in that situation of an agency that needs to be eliminated.

And I want to make it clear that in no way, by eliminating the EAC, are we doing anything to repeal or have any intent to do away with HAVA. That is something that came about in a bipartisan effort, and it will remain and shall remain as we move forward. But the EAC was created and funded for a 3-year period. Nine years later, we have one of the most inefficient agencies that we will probably ever see. It is beyond tweaking and correcting to do that.

I want to say that we all believe it is essential in our country that everyone has a right to vote and has access to vote and that no one be disenfranchised. In no way does that have any impact in a negative way. In fact, it will make the election process more efficient to do away with an agency like this. It is a Federal agency that has long outlived its usefulness. And if we look at the people that are on the ground in the States, the Secretaries of State in each of our States, that NASS

would pass a resolution, not once, but twice, that this agency needs to be done away with--we need to follow that great advice of those that are most intimately familiar with what's going on.

I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this legislation.