Senate panel advances Trump FEC nominee in party-line vote
The Senate Rules Committee on Thursday advanced President Trump’s nominee to serve as a member of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), an agency that has been sidelined since August due to a lack of commissioners.
The Senate panel voted along party lines to advance Texas attorney Trey Trainor’s nomination to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. Democrats cited his past views on campaign finance in voicing their opposition.
If the Senate confirms Trainor, who was an adviser to Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, the FEC will have a quorum, allowing it to resume business. The agency has lacked the required four commissioners needed to vote on proposals ever since former Commissioner Matthew Petersen resigned last year, leaving the agency largely powerless during the run-up to a presidential election.
Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) called Trainor “undoubtedly qualified” and said his confirmation is needed so that the FEC can carry out its duties.
“Without a quorum, the FEC cannot fulfill its most important functions, including providing formal guidance to federal candidates as they work to address the unique challenges they face during the coronavirus pandemic,” Blunt said. “Trey Trainor’s confirmation would fill a vacancy, balance party representation, and, most importantly, allow the FEC to do its job.”
Democrats have adamantly opposed Trainor, arguing that his nomination should have been moved forward alongside a Democratic FEC nominee, as has traditionally occurred.
The FEC currently has one Republican, one Democrat and one independent, with three commissioner vacancies.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), the top Democrat on the committee, argued Thursday that Trainor’s past work went against what the FEC stands for when it comes to campaign finance disclosures.
“Today we are asked to move forward with a nominee who, based on his record, doesn’t believe in campaign finance law. Yet the entire point of the FEC is to enforce campaign finance law,” Klobuchar said during the hearing. “It is critical that the FEC has commissioners that believe in its mission.”
During his confirmation hearing 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.
It is unclear when the Senate will vote on Trainor’s nomination. A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had no details on timing as of Thursday.