Deal to revive FEC could include its first African-American member
It's been a dozen days since the Federal Election Commission lost its quorum, and subsequently its ability to perform most of its duties in enforcing campaign finance law. With only three commissioners on the job, and four required to take any action, the fall's first regularly scheduled meeting was canceled Thursday.
President Trump and the Senate have the power to restore full functionality to the FEC with relative speed, but the partisanship that's deadlocked the agency for years is clogging the process even as the 2020 campaign heats up.
Democratic senators are proposing seating one new commissioner from each party, according to the Center for Public Integrity, which reports that the consensus choice for the Democratic spot is Shana Broussard, an FEC attorney who would be the first African-American commissioner in the FEC's 44-year history.
Republicans are proposing the FEC be restocked with six new commissioners, in part because the three now on the job are all continuing to serve (as the law allows) even though their terms have expired.
President Trump two years ago offered a single nominee, Republican attorney Trey Trainor of Austin. By law no more than three FEC commissioners may be from one party. The current commissioners are the Democratic chairwoman, Ellen Weintraub, Republican Caroline Hunter and independent Steven Walther.
- FEC stalled on regulations for online political ads - The Fulcrum ›
- FEC severely limited by lack of quorum - The Fulcrum ›
Neal is federal government affairs manager at R Street Institute, a nonpartisan and pro-free-market public policy research organization.
The term "democratic norms" has become a misnomer over the last year. America's governing institutions are undermined by elected officials who dishonor their offices and each other. Standards of behavior and "normal" processes of governance seem to be relics of a simpler time. Our democracy has survived thus far, but the wounds are many.
Free speech and free press have been the White House's two consistent whipping posts. Comments such as "I think it is embarrassing for the country to allow protestors" and constant attacks on press credibility showcase President Trump's disdain for the pillars of democracy. Traditional interactions between the administration and the press are no longer taken for granted. Demeaning, toxic criticisms have become so common that they're being ignored. As the administration revokes critics' press passes and daily briefings are canceled, normalcy in this arena is sorely missed.
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