The Federal Election Commission’s paralysis on key campaign-finance matters could be extended indefinitely as leaders in Congress skirmish over how to appoint new commissioners.
Senate Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), want to install six new commissioners. The move would fill vacancies and replace current commissioners, including Ellen Weintraub, the FEC’s Democratic chairwoman, who has frequently criticized President Donald Trump. A clean slate of members will go a long way toward fixing some of the perceived dysfunction at the commission, said a Senate Republican aide, who asked not to be named.
Democrats, meanwhile, say the Senate should move quickly to fill existing vacancies, restoring a quorum and allowing the commission to function fully. Democrats aren’t calling for immediate replacement of the current commissioners.
The standoff could delay for weeks or months restoring the FEC’s ability to enforce campaign-finance laws as the 2020 election approaches. Federal campaign spending is projected to approach $8 billion to $10 billion. The departure of Republican commissioner Matthew Petersen on Aug. 31 reduced the FEC to three commissioners with three seats vacant. At least four are needed to approve regulations, advisory opinions and enforcement actions.