Legislation & policy analysis

Bipartisan FEC overhaul bill introduced by Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Jim Renacci (R-OH)

Today, Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Jim Renacci (R-OH) re-introduced their bipartisan bill to overhaul the gridlocked Federal Election Commission (FEC) and begin enforcing the nation’s election laws again. Representatives Mark Amodei (R-NV), Lou Barletta (R-PA), Ken Buck (R-CO), Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Walter Jones (R-NC), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Scott Peters (D-CA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Kathleen Rice (D-NY) and John Sarbanes (D-MD) joined them as original cosponsors.

The Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections Act makes structural changes to the FEC to help ensure there is a cop on the beat of our nation’s campaign finance system.

“This rare, bipartisan legislation would change the design of the dysfunctional Federal Election Commission for the better,” said Issue One Chief of Policy, Programs and Strategy Meredith McGehee, who has advocated for FEC reforms for years. “From the moment the FEC was conceived, members of Congress have sought to undermine the agency’s oversight of elected officials. The measurement for being an FEC commissioner is not just party loyalty, but ideological fealty. If that commissioner is a Republican, that has translated in the past decade to nullification.”

As Republican Senator Gordon Humphrey (R-NH) said during consideration of Republican who believed in strict enforcement of the laws, “There is no more dangerous agency in this government today, including the FBI and the CIA, than the Federal Election Commission. My party wants someone protecting its interest on that commission.”

Briefly, the Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections Act (H.R. 2034) would model the structure of the FEC to be the same as almost every single independent agency in Washington. It would reduce the number of commissioners from six to five, likely ending the near-permanent stalemate that confronts the agency now. It would also term-limit commissioners and permit no more than two commissioners to be members of the same political party, while allowing the president to appoint the chair of the agency to a 10-year term, subject to confirmation by the Senate. This aims to avoid House and Senate leaders from simply appointing party loyalists. By establishing a Blue Ribbon Advisory panel of unbiased experts to recommend individuals for nomination to the president, its intention is to end the practice of commissioners serving until a replacement is confirmed by the Senate. The chair would also absorb more administrative tasks, allowing commissioners to focus less on staff-related issues and more on questions of campaign finance law.

To read the bill, click here.