A spending bill from the House Appropriations Committee unveiled Thursday would give the Election Assistance Commission 60 days to terminate itself. The small agency was created after the tightly contested 2000 presidential election. It has an annual budget of about $10 million and had just 31 employees on its rolls as of March. The agency writes election management guidelines and develops specifications for testing and certifying voting systems, among other tasks.
The House Administration Committee first proposed the elimination earlier this year before the fiscal 2018 appropriations bill also slated the agency to shutter its doors. Republicans argued during a markup Thursday the agency was always intended to be temporary and other federal offices, such as the Federal Elections Commission, could easily assume its responsibilities.
Democrats introduced an amendment at the markup to save the agency, arguing that its role was more important than ever given the attempts by the Russian government to interfere with the 2016 election. Republicans rejected that line of thinking, noting the Homeland Security Department, and not EAC, has jurisdiction over election-related cybersecurity issues.
Brenda Bowser Soder, an EAC spokeswoman, said the agency has been “active in the conversation around cybersecurity for a long time.” EAC, she explained, provides cybersecurity experts with information on election processes. She added the agency helps to increase voting access, boost security and update election equipment.