WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined House Administration Committee Chairman Bob Ney (R-OH) today to call on Congress and President Bush to support full funding for the 2002 Help America Vote Act. The next national election is only 369 days away, yet states still lack the funds to implement essential reform initiatives. The following is Rep. Hoyer’s statement as prepared for delivery:
“I am pleased to be here this afternoon with Chairman Ney on the one year anniversary of the Help America Vote Act to discuss the progress we’ve made on election reform. As the principle House sponsors of that bill, we worked together after the 2000 Presidential election debacle to develop a set of standards that would improve the ease, accuracy, and security of voting and registration in time for the 2004 election.
“Recognizing that would come with a significant price tag, the Help America Vote Act authorized Congress to provide $3.86 billion to states.
“In four days, we will be exactly one year away from the 2004 election. But to date, states have received only $650 million of the money authorized - $660 million below the amount authorized in fiscal year 2003.
“This year $500 million was included in the house fiscal year 2004 Transportation Treasury Appropriations bill. We are grateful that last week, Senators Dodd and McConnell succeeded in adding an additional $1 billion to the Senate version of that bill. Without a doubt that was a step in the right direction.
“However, to ensure that the problems of three years ago do not persist, we are going to continue to seek full funding this year. This sentiment is shared by former Presidents Ford and Carter, who co-chaired the National Commission on Federal Election Reform. They called on President Bush in a letter last week to support full funding this year.
“States need our help – immediately. Virtually every state in the nation faces a budget deficit, and hard choices about cuts to education, health care, or law enforcement. Yet states will still be responsible for implementing the law’s mandates without regard to federal funding.
“It’s incumbent on Congress to fulfill its obligation, and we agree there is no better time than now, before Congress adjourns for the year, to demonstrate our commitment to the integrity of our own democratic system by appropriating the remaining funds authorized - - $1.86 billion on top of the $500 million in the House Transportation Treasury bill.”