FIRST ON FOX: Top Republican senators are pushing the Biden administration for answers on its ‘voter mobilization’ efforts after the lawmakers say they’ve been stonewalled for over six months.
In a letter sent Tuesday by Sen. Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., and co-signed by top leadership, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the group of 23 senators admonished President Biden for his administration’s ‘failure to respond’ to their inquires about Executive Order 14019 on ‘Promoting Access to Voting.’
‘This policy directive merits congressional oversight both as a general matter and under the Antideficiency Act,’ the lawmakers wrote, and accordingly reiterated their request for how federal agencies plan to implement the executive order, including a request for copies of their plans submitted to the White House.
‘The Order outlines various activities in which agencies are to engage, including promoting mail-in voting and partnering with third-party organizations to register voters,’ the letter says.
The lawmakers argue that ‘[f]ederal agencies should be focused on their defined missions in a nonpartisan manner, not using taxpayer funds for voter mobilization efforts with potentially partisan impacts.’
‘ In other words, it’s not the job of the federal government to drive voter turnout. Reviewing these agency plans is crucial to determining whether this order has or may lead to the improper use of federal resources,’ they said.
Executive Order 14019 directs more than 600 federal agencies to engage in voter-related activities without congressional approval, ‘and it is doubtful that Congress approved the use of appropriated agency funds for voter mobilization,’ Hagerty and his colleagues write.
The order issued on March 7, 2021, claims that ‘many Americans, especially people of color, confront significant obstacles to exercising’ the fundamental right to vote.
‘These obstacles include difficulties with voter registration, lack of election information, and barriers to access at polling places. For generations, Black voters and other voters of color have faced discriminatory policies and other obstacles that disproportionally affect their communities,’ the order says.
Biden claims that those voters are more likely to face long lines at the polls and are ‘disproportionately burdened by voter identification laws and limited opportunities to vote by mail.’
The lawmakers argue in the letter that using appropriated funds for a purpose Congress did not expressly authorize would constitute a violation of the Antideficiency Act, which prohibits agencies from expending or obligating funds in a manner not authorized by law.
‘Violating this statute carries administrative and potential criminal penalties, highlighting the need for transparency,’ the senators write.
‘Unfortunately, the White House has kept these plans hidden despite numerous requests from Congress,’ they said.
The senators asked for a number of communications, including all procedures that were established by Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Biden’s order said the attorney general would work directly with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Probation and Pretrial Services Office and the U.S. Marshals Service to ‘establish procedures, consistent with applicable law, to provide educational materials related to voter registration and voting and, to the extent practicable, to facilitate voter registration, for all eligible individuals.’
The senators also requested full copies of all federal agency ‘strategic plans’ and a list of which agencies have not yet submitted a strategic plan.
They also asked for a full accounting of all federal funding used to date to implement the executive order, including the accounts from which the funding was used.