Fitzpatrick’s bipartisan bill seeks Federal Election Commission reforms

U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) on Feb. 14 unveiled a bipartisan bill to reform the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which the congressman said has become increasingly deadlocked on decisions. 

“The foundation of our democracy is the American people’s confidence in our electoral system,” Rep. Fitzpatrick said on Friday. “Ending the partisan gridlock at the Federal Election Commission will increase transparency and give the American people confidence that campaigns are held accountable and everyone is following the same rules.”

Rep. Fitzpatrick is the lead original cosponsor of the Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections Act, H.R. 1272, which would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to reduce the number of FEC members from six to five; would revise how FEC members are selected and the terms of their service; and would distribute FEC powers between the chair and the remaining members, among other provisions, according to the congressional record summary. 

Rep. Fitzpatrick said the FEC in 2006 deadlocked on roughly 3 percent of all enforcement cases under its review. But within a decade, that figure skyrocketed in 2016 to 30 percent deadlocked on all enforcement cases.

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), who sponsored H.R. 1272, said the FEC “has seen more gridlock than Congress,” and he called for “meaningful, substantial reforms at the commission” that would better permit it to correct campaign finance abuses.

Additionally, H.R. 1272 would mandate that one of the five total FEC members could not be affiliated with either political party to increase its independence, said Rep. Fitzpatrick.

If enacted, H.R. 1272 also would create an advisory Blue-Ribbon Commission to develop recommendations on nominees to fill future FEC vacancies; prohibit recent politicians from serving as FEC commissioners; and would designate that reviewing courts decide if FEC action is contrary to law based on the merits of the complaints under review, according to Rep. Fitzpatrick’s summary.

H.R. 1272 has been referred to the U.S. House Administration Committee for consideration.