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House Administration Committee Members Suggest Spending Cuts

Member of the House Administration Committee took wildly different approaches when recommending  slashes to legislative branch spending as part of a deficit deal.

Among other things, Democrats recommended raising Copyright Office fees, while Republicans suggested dismantling an election support agency.

These differences were highlighted Thursday when, at the invitation of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, Administration Committee representatives from both parties submitted proposals for cutting spending within committee jurisdiction.

Republicans called for the elimination of the Election Assistance Commission. Established in 2002 as part of the Help America Vote Act, it serves as a national clearinghouse of election information and oversees voter system testing and certification.

Critics argue that the agency has outlived its usefulness, and now is ineffective and a waste of money.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that eliminating the EAC could save $33 million over five years.

“Eliminating [the EAC] will not, by itself, solve our nation’s deficit problem,” said Administration Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) in his letter to the super committee “It would, however, contribute to that effort and underscore this Congress’ commitment to identifying every opportunity to ensure the taxpayers’ money is spent wisely and effectively.”

Earlier this year, the House Administration Committee endorsed legislation to dismantle the commission, but it failed to get a required two-thirds majority vote on the House floor.

Ranking member Robert Brady (D-Pa.), as well as Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas) denounced the Republican recommendation Friday.

“It would be the height of recklessness to do away with that agency,” said Brady in a statement.

In a separate letter to the super committee, Democrats urged lawmakers to follow the example set by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) when she was Speaker.

They lauded the environmental initiatives she facilitated by urging responsible energy use and consumption on Capitol Hill and praised her work to centralize the House’s technology costs, saving “well over $35 million over 10 years.”

The Democrats also said that the Copyright Office could consider raising its fees for protecting creative works, and that Executive Agency printing and the Government Printing Office could be consolidated to “save millions in unnecessary duplicate work and millions more in equipment and associated costs.”

Salley Wood, spokeswoman for the Administration Committee Republicans, said that Democrats’ energy reduction recommendations were worthwhile but “lack[ing] specific energy-saving suggestions,” and that Republicans, too, “are always looking at technological solutions to … reduce operational expenses.”

She questioned why Democrats would recommend increasing copyright fees only to reinvest them into the Copyright Office, rather than in a way that would actually reduce the deficit.

Wood also asked why Democrats would propose to streamline printing operations and not also specifically call for reductions in printing internally.

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