WASHINGTON - Committee on House Administration Chairman Bryan Steil (WI-01) delivered opening remarks at the hearing titled, "American Confidence in Elections: the Role of the Election Assistance Commission in Free, Fair, and Secure Elections."

Click the image or here to view Chairman Steil's opening remarks. 

Chairman Steil Opening Remarks:

The purpose of today’s hearing is two-fold.

First, it serves as a long overdue oversight hearing with the Election Assistance Commission, or EAC.

This is the committee’s first oversight hearing of the Election Assistance Commission since 2011.

As Chairman of the Committee on House Administration, I can assure you that times are changing.

I am committed to exercising robust oversight of our federal agencies to ensure we are protecting taxpayer dollars.

Second, today’s hearing will examine what improvements can be made to the EAC through the American Confidence in Elections Act to help improve voters’ confidence that our nation’s elections are free, fair, and secure.

Congress serves as an important check on federal agencies to ensure they are fulfilling their purpose.

The EAC was established to serve as an independent, bipartisan commission charged with helping voters participate in the electoral process, and to help election officials improve the administration of elections.

Following the 2000 election, Congress decided that election administration problems were big enough that a new federal agency needed to be created.

In its first 6 years, the EAC doled out $3 billion in federal taxpayer dollars in grants to states and has spent billions since.

While some states have used this money effectively, we know some states have not.

As part of the CARES Act, the EAC received $400 million in additional grant funding to prepare for the 2020 election cycle.

The GAO found that the EAC is unable to account for the full $400 million due to poor accounting policies. The GAO also found the EAC conducted minimal oversight.

The reporting made 'it difficult to determine how grant funds were spent across states.'

The failure to accurately track how states used these federal grants has potentially enabled significant waste, fraud, and abuse.

I am also concerned that some states spent the funds for a political purpose, rather than improving election administration.

Let’s look at how California spent their funds in 2020.

The state of California was awarded $35 million in federal funds.

California spent that money on a Get-Out-The-Vote Campaign. This campaign targeted specific voters. That contract was awarded through an expedited process.

The firm that was awarded that contract was SKD Knickerbocker. SKD Knickerbocker was Biden’s campaign advisory firm.

If you went to the company’s website, you’d see they listed themselves as part of 'Team Biden.'

If that’s not a conflict of interest, I don’t know what is. It is a violation of federal law to use HAVA grant funds for get-out-the-vote activity.

The former EAC Inspector General stated that the contract between the California Secretary of State and SKD Knickerbocker presented a risk of improper use that required further examination.

The American people demand more transparency and accountability in their government, especially with respect to elections. Today, we will bring much-needed oversight to the EAC to examine how we can eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.

In doing so, we can help improve voters’ confidence in both the EAC and our elections process as a whole.