Bipartisan opposition to presidential tax financing system ticks up

The bipartisan opposition to handouts to presidential candidates is ticking up.

Yesterday evening, the House voted 247-175 to temporarily restrict funds from being spent on the tax financing program for presidential candidates and political party conventions.

On Jan. 26, the House voted 239-160 to permanently repeal the program.

Most of the flux was from Members of Congress who didn’t vote on the permanent repeal (H.R. 359) but voted on the temporary restriction (Amendment 208 to H.R. 1). Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) sponsored both measures.

Thirty-five lawmakers didn’t vote on H.R. 359; only 11 failed to vote on Amendment 208.

Perhaps the most surprising development was that Rep. Jerry Costello (D-Ill.) switched his vote to favor at least a temporary restriction of the program. Rep. Costello voted against H.R. 359 less than a month ago.

Twelve other Democrats voted for Amendment 208; only 10 voted for H.R. 359. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) also voted to temporarily cut off the program. Both DeFazio and Costa did not vote on H.R. 359. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) was the only Republican to vote against both measures.

For more information on the debate on Amendment 208, see CCP’s recap from yesterday:

Lawmakers are considering a continuing resolution, H.R. 1, to fund the government until September. Rep. Cole offered Amendment 208, which would prevent implementation of the presidential tax financing system using funds appropriated under the continuing resolution.

Last month, the U.S. House passed H.R. 359, which would have abolished the Presidential Election Campaign Fund, but the measure has stalled in the Senate and President Obama would likely veto a stand-alone bill, assuming the Senate could pass it.

While the measure would not be permanent, Rep. Tom Cole, the sponsor of H.R. 259 and Amendment 208 to H.R. 1, said it would be a “down payment” on the goal of abolishing the system. He said the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the amendment would save $38 million in budgetary authority and $40 million in outlays for Fiscal Year 2011 (CBO estimated repealing the program would save $617 million over ten years).

“We all know on this floor that we need to cut spending,” Cole said during the debate. “We can start today by cancelling political welfare for politicians and political party conventions.”