Could this be the beginning of the end of conventions as we know them?
Bipartisan legislation targeting political convention money has passed the Republican-led House and is being championed in the upper chamber by Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.), a former Democratic National Committee chairman who is close to President Obama.
The bill, which was pushed through the House by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), would redirect money from political conventions to pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Some Democrats in the House ripped the bill as a “Band-aid” approach, but it easily passed in December, 295-103. Seventy-two Democrats backed it.
The support of Sens. Kaine and Mark Warner (D-Va.) is a huge boost for the legislation. Senate Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is also on board.
Kaine told The Hill he was initially concerned about using the convention money but noted that both parties have sought to eliminate public funding for conventions.
Experts say that public money accounts for 23 percent of convention funding, the rest coming from sponsors. If the House-passed bill becomes law, it would present a major funding hole for the Republican and Democratic national committees.
The taxpayer subsidies that pay for part of the conventions come from people who opt to contribute $3 on their federal income tax returns.
Some campaign finance groups don’t support the bill. They say that even if the measure is signed into law, it doesn’t mean the money will be appropriated to the NIH pediatric research fund.
They accuse proponents of the “Kids First” bill of playing politics to defund presidential conventions.
Here's what I don't understand. Isn't the $3 checkoff a dedicated funding source? Can the money be just moved around at a legislative whim? I mean, if they cancelled all public funding of the presidential campaigns and moved it to other uses, wouldn't the checkoff have to go away, and the funding source would dry up? Anyone know?
If Congress decides that getting rid of public funding of the conventions is the right thing to do, and a reasonable case can be made that it perpetuates the 2-party system with no real benefit to the public good, then fine. Just do it cleanly. Disguising it as a move to increase NIH funding by a GOP which has been cutting research funding all over the place is just a little bit ironic, don't you think?