Quigley Introduces FSGG Appropriations Amendment to Preserve the Election Assistance Commission
Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), who serves as Ranking Member of the Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Subcommittee, introduced an amendment to the FSGG Subcommittee appropriations bill to preserve and fund the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), tasked with ensuring our elections are accessible and secure. The amendment failed on a party-line vote, with all Democrats in support and all Republicans in opposition.
Below are Rep. Quigley’s remarks on the amendment, as prepared for delivery.
“Mister Chairman, I have an amendment related to the Election Assistance Commission.
“Something that I didn’t mention in my opening remarks that I believe deserves special attention is the very concerning cuts to a commission charged with safeguarding our election process.
“The subcommittee draft bill before us today slashes funding in half for the Election Assistance Commission —known as EAC—and includes language directing its termination by the end of fiscal year 2018. My amendment would preserve this agency and restore funding to the FY 2018 President’s budget request level of $9.2 million.
“For those not familiar, the EAC was created in 2002 under the Help American Vote Act. It is an independent, bipartisan commission charged with ensuring accessible, secure, and accurate elections.
“The EAC does this by supporting election administrators nationwide on a daily basis with developing best practices, providing training for election officials, and—I would like to emphasize—examining, testing, and certifying voting equipment.
“Today, perhaps more than at any other time in our nation’s history, state and local election officials face unique challenges that require access to federal guidance and support.
“The Intelligence Community’s January 2017 report on Russian activities in the 2016 election confirmed that Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards.
“We also know that the Russians do not have to hack into every polling place or voting booth in order to cast doubt, uncertainty, and suspicion over the integrity of our electoral process, which is, of course, their ultimate goal. And, as Former FBI Director Comey made clear in his recent testimony, the Russians will be back.
“In order to prevent future attacks against our democratic process, we must harden our defenses.
“Eliminating the EAC, the federal government’s only independent direct line of communication to state and local election officials, would be dramatically out of step with the federal government’s work to improve election systems and provide states with the support they need to hold accurate and secure elections.
“Moreover, the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to designate election systems as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure, as well as concerns over our nation’s aging voting machines, just further underscores the vital role that the EAC plays in serving as an intermediary between federal and state leaders.
“It’s important to note that the subject matter expertise to carry out the EAC’s mandate cannot be replaced with an agency whose primary mission is not focused on the election industry. No other federal agency has the capacity, willingness, or expertise to effectively absorb EAC functions. In fact, both NIST and the FEC have made clear that they do not believe they are suited to adopt the EAC mission.
“With foreign governments attempting to disrupt and influence our democratic process, now is the time to double down on our efforts to prevent all forms of election hacking—not eliminate the very agency on the forefront of this fight. EAC remains our nation’s best resource to protect voters’ rights and the integrity of elections, and plays a vital role as part of the Nation’s election system infrastructure.
“The American people are watching, and we must ensure we are on the right side of history during this pivotal moment in our democracy. I urge my colleagues on both sides to put aside partisan politics and support this amendment.”