A group of top Republican senators, led by Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), is pressing the Biden administration for clarity on its voter mobilization efforts.
They have expressed concerns about the lack of response to their inquiries regarding Executive Order 14019, “Promoting Access to Voting.”
The senators have been seeking information for over six months and now demand details on how federal agencies plan to implement the order.
Concerns Over Partisan Use of Federal Resources
The executive order, issued on March 7, 2021, directs federal agencies to engage in activities to promote voting, including mail-in voting and partnering with third-party organizations for voter registration.
The Republican senators argue that these activities could lead to partisan use of taxpayer funds, deviating from the agencies’ nonpartisan missions.
They stress that it’s not the federal government’s role to drive voter turnout and that these plans need review under the Antideficiency Act.
Potential Violation of the Antideficiency Act
The letter emphasizes that using appropriated funds for purposes not expressly authorized by Congress might violate the Antideficiency Act, which forbids agencies from spending or obligating funds not authorized by law.
Violation of this statute can result in administrative and potential criminal penalties, underscoring the need for transparency.
Executive Order Aimed at Addressing Voting Obstacles
Executive Order 14019 was established to address voting obstacles, particularly for people of color.
It acknowledges difficulties in voter registration, access to election information, and barriers at polling places.
The order notes that these issues disproportionately affect Black voters and other communities of color.
Requests for Detailed Information
The GOP senators have requested several documents and communications, including established procedures by Attorney General Merrick Garland and strategic plans from federal agencies.
They also seek a complete accounting of all federal funding used to implement the executive order, highlighting the urgency for transparency in these efforts.
Currently, the senators express that the White House has kept these plans hidden despite repeated requests from Congress.
The outcome of these inquiries and the administration’s response could significantly impact the ongoing dialogue about federal involvement in voting processes and safeguarding nonpartisan principles in government activities.