WASHINGTON – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today following the Full Appropriations Committee Markup of the Fiscal Year 2004 Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill, which contained $15 million total for election reform disability programs including State Access Grants ($13 million) and Protection and Advocacy programs ($2 million):
“I am very pleased that we were able to include $15 million in funding for election reform disability programs in the fiscal year 2004 Labor, Health and Human Services Bill passed by the committee today. The weak economy has forced many states to squeeze their budgets and, as a result, states don’t have the money to implement the changes necessary to ensure that elections are fair. So it is more important than ever that the federal government pay its fair share to run our democracy.
“Americans were shocked to learn during the 2000 presidential election that technical and human errors and other inequities plague our election system. It is a basic test of our democracy and all elected officials that we successfully act to correct them. This funding is one more step in that process.
“Although this funding is significantly less than the amounts authorized by the Help America Vote Act, in this time of budgets squeezed by large tax cuts, it is reflective of how important it is to implement these reforms that we have appropriated a significant amount of funding again this year.”
The HAV Act authorized $35 million in funding for fiscal year 2004 for State Access Grants and Protection and Advocacy Programs.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer was the chief Democratic sponsor of the Help America Vote Act in the House of Representatives and is a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee and the Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee.