Chair DeLauro Statement at Election Assistance Commission Oversight Hearing

2021-02-16 11:10
House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on Election Assistance Commission (EAC) oversight:
I want to recognize Chairman Mike Quigley, Ranking Member Steve Womack for organizing the hearing and I thank the Election Assistance Commissioner Hovland who will testify, testify this morning.  

I think the subject of today’s hearing is so critical and that we need to look at the steps that we have taken to secure our democratic systems. And I know that’s what we’re going to hear about this morning. 

Almost four hundred years ago, our democracy was founded on the premise that all people are created equal. The right to vote would grow with each generation to ensure that democracy. And today, in some respects, we have seen that challenged.

For four years now, our right to vote has been threatened by foreign adversaries and, this year, by challenges that we had on the state level. And this hearing is an opportunity to discuss EAC’s resurgence after years of the agency being underfunded in previous congresses. 

I look forward to hearing more about EAC’s plans to continue to expand their ability to support state efforts to enhance election security, increase access to the polls, and other activities to improve the administration of federal elections. 

It was not that long ago that we had these conversations. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 made broad reforms to the administration of federal elections. The Act established the EAC to quell many of these vulnerabilities.  

As the Chairman pointed out a moment ago, to our detriment, between 2010 and 2019, the EAC’s annual funding was cut by nearly 50 percent. This inconsistent, insufficient, federal funding has hindered the ability of EAC and state and local election officials to combat very real threats to election security. The rise of misinformation and the coronavirus pandemic have only further complicated these efforts.

I want to say thank you to Chairman Quigley for the first significant allocation of funds to enable the EAC to begin to increase staffing and to expand the agency’s support to election officials in 2020. Again, in fiscal year 2021, the Chairman and Ranking Member further increased the EAC’s funding to $17 million. 

The increases have enabled the EAC to begin to rebuild the staffing which has already doubled in the past year and expanded the agency's support to state election officials. 

And that is just a start. There's still a considerable room for improvement as many states lack the funds to implement necessary elections security measures, but no voter should ever have to choose between their health and their right to vote.

One of our core responsibilities on this committee is to ensure that the agencies under our purview safeguard America's election processes and our democracy. The EAC is a national clearinghouse for information on election administration and accessibility and the only federal agency completely dedicated to election administration. Now, more than ever, we need to provide the necessary resources, support the protection of our democracy and secure our elections.

Thank you for your work and I look forward to hearing the testimony on this very important subject.

117th Congress