US & World

House votes to eliminate public partial funding of presidential campaigns

Congressman Dan Lungren.
Congressman Dan Lungren.
Kitty Felde/KPCC

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The U.S. House of Representatives today voted to end taxpayer financing for presidential election campaigns and national party conventions.

On your tax return, there’s a check-off box that allows you to allocate $3 from your income taxes to help pay for presidential campaigns and party conventions. Republican Congressman Dan Lungren of northern California says the number of Americans who’ve checked that box has steadily declined from nearly one in three in 1980 to fewer than one in ten last year.

"I, like most Americans, though, who contributed to that in the past, have given up on the program," Lungren says. "We don’t believe it gave us what we thought it might."

Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of San Jose reminded her colleagues that the federal government created public election funding in response to abuses during the Nixon administration.

Lofgren says she wouldn't argue "that this system is perfect at this time. I think it does need reform. But I think mere elimination without a committee process is a huge mistake."

By a vote of 239 to 160, the House voted to get rid of the box – and use the money to reduce the federal deficit.