The Senate on Tuesday voted to confirm Texas attorney Trey Trainor to serve on the Federal Election Commission (FEC), giving the agency the quorum it needs to conduct business for the first time since August.
Trainor, who is a former adviser on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump slams Fox after hydroxychloroquine warning: ‘Looking for a new outlet’Trump threatens permanent freeze on WHO funding without ‘major’ reforms within 30 daysSchumer: Trump’s statements on hydroxychloroquine ‘is reckless, reckless, reckless’MOREs 2016 presidential campaign, was confirmed 49-43 along party lines, with eight senators not voting. He received strong Democratic pushback due to Trainors record on campaign finance and concern over a lack of bipartisanship during the nomination process.
The FEC has lacked the required four commissioners to conduct business and issue opinions since former Commissioner Matthew Petersen stepped down in August, leaving the agency largely powerless in the run up to a presidential election. The period without quorum was the longest in the agencys history.
Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntBurr decision sends shock waves through SenateBurr to step down from Senate Intel panel amid stock sale probeGOP chairman dismisses moving Election Day: ‘No justification for changing the elections’MORE (R-Mo.), whose committee approved Trainors nomination along party lines earlier this month, said Tuesday that he was pleased the Senate had worked through all the obstacles involved in Trainors nomination, and would be able to get the FEC back in business.
Trainors confirmation still leaves two vacancies at the FEC, which should have six commissioners. The other three current commissioners include one Democrat, one Republican, and one Independent.
FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub (D) told The Hill in a statement that “the FEC needs to have a quorum, and I hope to have a constructive working relationship with Trey.”
“We have a lot of work ahead of us 350 matters on our enforcement docket and 227 items waiting for Commission action,” Weintrab added. “I am ready to roll up my sleeves and work with all my colleagues to get the important work of this agency done.”
Democrats have pushed back against Trainors nomination, citing concerns over Trainors views on campaign finance, and concerns that he was not confirmed at the same time as a Democrat, as is traditionally the case for FEC commissioners.
During his nomination hearing before the Senate Rules Committee in March, Trainor was pressed by Democrats on whether he would recuse himself from FEC cases involving President Trump. Trainor said he would not accept a blanket recusal if confirmed.
Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHere’s how Biden can win over the minority vote and the Rust Belt 14 things to know today about the fight against COVID-19Klobuchar, Rubio ask CDC to investigate reports of coronavirus causing strokes in younger patientsMORE (D-Minn.), the ranking member of the Rules panel, strongly urged senators to vote against Trainors nomination during a Senate floor speech ahead of the vote, pointing to concerns that the Senate was not voting on a Democratic FEC nominee as well.
The FEC has been plagued by partisan gridlock for years, Klobuchar said. With the general election only 168 days away, we should be working together to make sure that the agency is working to the fullest extent possible. Americans are tired of hyperpartisanship and gridlock.
House Administration Committee Chairwoman Zoe LofgrenZoe Ellen LofgrenHouse Democrats unveil proposed rule changes to allow remote votingThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Trump predicts quick vaccine; Pence: I should have worn maskWill Trump’s immigration proclamation ensure Americans get their jobs back after the pandemic?MORE (D-Calif.), whose panel has jurisdiction over elections, also criticized Trainors confirmation, and urged Trump to put forward nominees for the two remaining vacant FEC commissioner posts.
With only four-out-of-six seats filled, a unanimous vote will be required to approve Commission decisions on enforcement matters, Advisory Opinions, rulemakings, and other matters, Lofgren said in a statement. A single recusal could prohibit a matter from full Commission action. This is unacceptable in the middle of the 2020 election cycle.