WASHINGTON – Eager to cut spending, the Republican-controlled House voted to end multimillion-dollar federal subsidies for presidential candidates and national political conventions on Wednesday, the first of what party leaders promised will be weekly, bite-sized bills to attack record deficits.
The 239-160 vote sent the measure – and the fate of the familiar $3 check-off box on income tax returns – to the Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats.
“Eliminating this program would save taxpayers $617 million over ten years, and would require candidates and political parties to rely on private contributions rather than tax dollars,” said Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.
“In times when government has no choice but to do more with less, voting to end the Presidential Election Campaign Fund should be a no brainer,” he said.
Democratic critics said it was anything but that, arguing the vote represented a step away from sweeping reforms enacted in response to the Watergate scandals of a generation ago.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said that in combination with a year-old Supreme Court ruling that loosened restrictions on donations by corporations and others, the legislation would result in “less transparency and less information for the voters” at a time when the public