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Prohibiting Use of Presidential Election Campaign Funds for Party Conventions

Floor Speech

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Mr. COLE. I thank my friend for yielding.

H.R. 5912 is a bipartisan bill to end public financing for political conventions. And that's all it is.

I want to begin by thanking my friend, Mr. Loebsack from Iowa. We belong to different parties. I have no doubt we'll be voting for different Presidential candidates. But we both agree that it's wrong to use taxpayer dollars to finance partisan political events. And I appreciate his support in helping push this legislation.

Let me make it clear to everybody. I'm not opposed to political party conventions. I've gone to 10 of them. I actually had the privilege of helping stage one in 2000, when I was chief of staff of the Republican National Committee. And I can assure you that experience taught me that the parties are more than capable of putting on their conventions. They essentially do that now. The Federal component of the cost to the convention is about 23 percent of the total cost. So the idea that they can't find the resources to do this for themselves I think simply falls flat on its face.

This year, at a time when we're going to be running trillion-dollar deficits for the fourth year in a row, we wrote checks to the Democratic Party and to the Republican Party, as my friend Mr. Lungren mentioned, for almost $18 million each. For what? Was it really necessary? Does anybody really believe that was the best use of public money? Is there no program that's more important? I can give you a list of better places for that money to go that we would probably agree on on both sides of the aisle.

It's remarkable to me that we've reached a point in this body that this becomes an issue of some degree of partisan contention. The United States Senate passed, essentially, this legislation by 95-5 in an amendment by my friend, Mr. Coburn, to a larger piece of legislation. So there's broad agreement in the Senate, which Democrats control, that this is a Federal expense that we no longer need to incur.

This bill is a small step, but it's a stall step in the right direction. It's a step to save taxpayer dollars for things that people need as opposed to things that politicians and political parties want. We ought to take this opportunity, work together, save the money, reduce the deficit by at least a modest amount, spend money in places where it's necessary, and pass this bill. It's a quite simple piece of legislation. Those folks that have a different point of view, bring your legislation to the floor, we'll deal with that. But there's no reason to pay for the Democratic and the Republican national conventions with taxpayer funds.

One last point, if I may, Mr. Speaker. We don't do this for anybody else. There are other political groups and parties in America that I'm sure would like to have their conventions paid for. We don't give them a single dime. So this actually perpetuates a bipartisan monopoly, if you will. There's no public purpose in spending this money.

So I urge the passage. I urge some bipartisan cooperation.

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