When the Federal Election Commission (FEC) Vice Chairman, Matthew Petersen, resigned in late August 2019, it became evident that the FEC was going to be left without a quorum on key issues, notably campaign finance. As such, there were increasing calls for Capitol Hill to take action and ensure the filling up of vacancies on the board in order to prevent a prolonged paralysis of the Federal Election Commission as America heads into the 2020 polls.
However, Kenneth P. Doyle argues in an article at Bloomberg Government that “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.” According to Doyle,
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.
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