A dozen House members from both parties have introduced legislation to restructure the Federal Election Commission to help break deadlocks over campaign finance law enforcement.
The Restoring Integrity to America's Elections Act would make the FEC's structure similar to other independent federal agencies to "help ensure there is a cop on the beat of our nation's campaign finance system," the lawmakers stated.
The six-member commission that enforces campaign laws would drop to five and its members would be term-limited. The president would still appoint the chairman, whose term would become 10 years. Only two of the five members could be of the same political party, thereby ensuring at least one independent would be on the commission at any given time.
It also would create an advisory panel to recommend nominees to the president to fill any commission vacancies, ending the practice of commissioners serving indefinitely until a replacement is chosen and approved by the Senate.
Reps. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, and Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., introduced the bill with 10 original co-sponsors: Reps. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., Ken Buck, R-Colo., Lou Barletta, R-Pa., Larry Bucshon, R-Ind., Walter Jones, R-N.C., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Jared Polis, D-Colo., Scott Peters, D-Calif., Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., and John Sarbanes, D-Md.
"This rare, bipartisan legislation would change the design of the dysfunctional Federal Election Commission for the better," said Meredith McGehee of Issue One, a government watchdog group.
"From the moment the FEC was conceived, members of Congress have sought to undermine the agency's oversight of elected officials," she said, adding that this bill would help prevent that.
The number of times the commission deadlocked on whether to investigate significant cases has jumped exponentially in the last decade, the lawmakers stated. In 2006, the FEC commissioners deadlocked on fewer than 3 percent of all major enforcement cases reviewed. That jumped to 30 percent in 2016.
"Every day Americans expect for election law to be properly followed and enforced, regardless of party ideology," Renacci stated. "It is important that these reforms are made to the FEC in order to hold politicians accountable to the American people."