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Senate approves three FEC nominees, restoring commission's ability to function

Senate approves three FEC nominees, restoring commission's ability to function
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The Senate on Wednesday voted to approve the nominations of two Republicans and one Democrat to serve on the Federal Election Commission (FEC), restoring a quorum to an agency that has been kneecapped for the past year. 

The Senate approved the nominations of Republicans Allen Dickerson and Sean Cooksey and Democrat Shana Broussard by votes of 49-47, 50-47 and 92-4, respectively. 

Dickerson, Cooksey and Broussard provide the FEC with a full slate of six commissioners after months of it being unable to fully function with only three. Four commissioners are needed for a quorum.

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Broussard, the first person of color to serve on the FEC, formerly served as counsel to FEC Vice Chairman Steven Walter, an independent. She also previously served as an attorney-adviser at the IRS, as deputy disciplinary counsel at the Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board, and as a New Orleans assistant district attorney.

Prior to his confirmation, Dickerson served as the legal director at the Institute for Free Speech in Alexandria, Va., and prior to that was an associate with law firm Kirkland & Ellis.

Cooksey previously served as general counsel to Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyPence heckled with calls of 'traitor' at conservative conference Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision Senate confirms Biden pick for No. 2 role at Interior MORE (R-Mo.) and as deputy chief counsel for Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Ted Cruz says critical race theory is as racist as 'Klansmen in white sheets' Pentagon pulling 'certain forces and capabilities,' including air defenses, from Middle East MORE (R-Texas). He has also worked as a litigation associate at Washington, D.C., law firm Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, and served as a law clerk for Judge Jerry Smith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.

The approvals mean the FEC will be made up of three Republicans, two Democrats and one independent.

The Senate Rules Committee approved the nominations earlier this month. Committee Chairman Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntOvernight Health Care: Takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision | COVID-19 cost 5.5 million years of American life | Biden administration investing billions in antiviral pills for COVID-19 Five takeaways on the Supreme Court's Obamacare decision GOP senator: I want to make Biden a 'one-half-term president' MORE (R-Mo.) celebrated the new commissioners on Wednesday. 

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“The Federal Election Commission plays a critical role in ensuring the integrity of our campaign finance system,” Blunt said in a statement. “I’m glad the Senate has taken action to restore a full slate of commissioners to the FEC, which has been without a complete panel since February 2017. With all six commissioners in place, the FEC will be stable, politically balanced, and able to fulfill its most important functions.”

Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharDemocrats scramble to unify before election bill brawl Hillicon Valley: Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC | Lawmakers urge Biden to be tough on cyber during summit with Putin | TSA working on additional security regulations following Colonial Pipeline hack Big Tech critic Lina Khan named chair of the FTC MORE (D-Minn.), the ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee, applauded Broussard’s confirmation in a separate statement. 

“This is a landmark day since Shana Broussard will be the first person of color to serve on the Federal Elections Commission board in its 45 year history,” Klobuchar said. “Shana Broussard is an immensely qualified and well-respected attorney who has worked at the FEC for more than a decade. We must restore trust in the FEC, and this confirmation of Ms. Broussard will go a long way towards doing that.”

Klobuchar and two other Democrats on the Rules panel voted against the nominations of Cooksey and Dickerson while in committee, with Klobuchar citing concerns over Dickerson’s stance on transparency around political spending.

FEC Commissioner and former chair Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat, applauded all three of the new commissioners on Wednesday, tweeting congratulations to each. 

The FEC lost its quorum in August 2019 when former Commissioner Matthew Petersen, a Republican, stepped down. The quorum was briefly restored in May with the Senate confirmation of current FEC Chairman Trey Trainor, a Republican, but was lost weeks later when former FEC Republican Commissioner Caroline Hunter stepped down.

Trainor told The Hill in October that he hoped the Senate would quickly confirm the three nominees due to the backlog of cases that the FEC had been unable to address. 

“There is plenty of work for us to do,” Trainor said. “There have been plenty of complaints that have been generated by the 2020 cycle; looking forward to getting to address those.”