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Omnibus Re-Ups Measure to Defund Nonexistent ACORN Group

Provision could have been lifted from previous spending packages and never scrubbed

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said using the appropriations process to restrict settlement payouts was complex. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said using the appropriations process to restrict settlement payouts was complex. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Tucked away on one of the 2,232 pages of the omnibus spending bill Congress sent to President Donald Trump’s desk early Friday morning is a provision to ban federal funding for a group called the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.

ACORN does not exist, however, and hasn’t since 2009.

The group worked to register poor people to vote and to push for social services like expanded Medicaid and affordable housing. After Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, House Republicans accused ACORN of running a mass voter fraud campaign and swinging the Oval Office to Obama. No evidence of voter fraud was ever found.

Still, Republicans — and many Democrats — voted to end federal funding to the organization in the 2009 spending package. ACORN dissolved shortly after that, but the language prohibiting funds to the group snuck its way into this year’s bill nearly a decade later.

“I don’t remember this ever being discussed one time,” Rep. Tom Coletold HuffPost. “It wasn’t discussed at a hearing. I don’t remember it being discussed at any meeting with my Democratic colleagues and counterparts who negotiated the bill.”

The Oklahoma Republican said staffers may have inserted the ACORN provision in this year’s package after lifting portions of text from previous years’ spending deals.

The text reads: “None of the funds made available under this or any other Act, or any prior Appropriations Act, may be provided to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, allied organizations, or successors.”

ACORN does not have “affiliates,” “subsidiaries” or “allied organizations” because it no longer exists. Corporate and nonprofit law do not define the term “successor,” HuffPost reported.

“They did it in!” Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut quipped about her Republican colleagues defunding a nonexistent organization, according to HuffPost.

Watch: Xerox Machines, Basketball Upsets and an Omnibus No One Read: Congressional Hits and Misses

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