[Image via eac]
It didn’t get the same attention as the announcement of $425 million in election security grants to states, but this week’s Congressional FY20 budget compromise “minibus” includes a $15.171 million budget for the Election Assistance Commission, a sharp increase from previous funding levels – and even the agency’s own request.
Here’s the language from H.R. 1158:
ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION
SALARIES AND EXPENSES
(INCLUDING TRANSFER OF FUNDS)
For necessary expenses to carry out the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (Public Law 107–252), $15,171,000, of which $1,500,000 shall be transferred to the National Institute of Standards and Technology for election reform activities authorized under the Help America Vote Act of 2002; and of which $2,400,000 shall remain available until September 30, 2021, for relocation expenses.
Here’s the text from the explanatory statement:
Election Assistance Commission – Includes $425 million for a new round of election security grants to improve the security and integrity of elections for Federal office. Also includes $15.2 million for EAC operating expenses, an increase of $6 million above FY 2019, to restore staffing and other resources to enable the EAC to improve their support to states in advance of the 2020 elections and beyond.
The $15.171 million also represents over $3 million more than the EAC had requested for fiscal year 2020. While a significant portion of that increase is the relocation expenses (which presumably will allow the agency to return to downtown DC after years in suburban Maryland) it’s a rare increase for the oft-cash-strapped body.
As with the $425 million for election security, the bill still requires full Congressional passage and a presidential signature – never a guarantee with such a big spending bill with so many policies included. Still, it’s tremendously promising news for a vitally-important agency that was being targeted for elimination just a few years ago. Stay tuned …