Draft Budget Bill Includes Election Security, IRS Modernization, & FTC Tech Enforcement

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The House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Subcommittee proposed a total of $24.5 billion for FSGG discretionary budget authority in fiscal year 2020, which includes funding for election security, modernizing the Internal Revenue Services (IRS), and protecting consumer data.

The committee budget recommendation is about $1.4 billion more than the FY2019 appropriation and is $255 million more than the White House FY2020 request. The committee at large reviewed the budget markup in a hearing today.

FSGG Subcommittee Chair Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., highlighted the draft bill’s funding for the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to ensure “reliable, secure, and accessible elections.” He cited Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s findings about the Russian interference in the 2016 election, which he said was “a purposeful strategy involving sophisticated cyber techniques to influence the outcome of our election,” to justify increasing election systems modernization funding.

“The challenge of securing our election systems should be a uniting force among Americans,” Quigley said. “The bill before us today includes $600 million for payments to states to help them meet the challenge of restoring the security and the integrity of American elections.”

Committee Chair Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., added that the bill would provide $16.2 million for EAC’s operating expenses, which is a 76 percent increase from last fiscal year.

“This bill would invest in a future that supports the security of our data and our elections and sets our communities up for success,” Lowey said.

The draft bill also provides $12 billion for the IRS, which is 6 percent more than the White House request. This includes $2.56 billion for taxpayer services and $290 million for business systems modernization – a $140 million or 93.3 percent increase above the FY2019 enacted level.

“These resources are dedicated to finance the IRS Integrated Modernization Business Plan that spans six years and will aim to improve the taxpayer experience by modernizing core tax administration systems, improving IRS operations, and strengthening cybersecurity,” a report of the draft bill said. “The Committee supports efforts by the IRS to modernize the agency’s legacy systems.”

Along the lines of modernization and cybersecurity, the subcommittee bill concurred with the administration’s request for $18 million to fund the Cybersecurity Enhancement Account at the Treasury Department. It also recommends $340.2 million to the Fiscal Service – $7.7 million of which will fund information systems modernization and cybersecurity enhancements.

The FSGG committee budget also emphasizes protecting consumer data by funding the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to increase its enforcement of antitrust statutes and ability to investigate dubious business practices. The announcement couples with the Justice Department and FTC’s announcement last week to investigate big tech companies, such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple, and the bill marks support for those efforts.

“The Committee is highly concerned by increasing instances of fraudulent or deceptive data collection practices and other violations of consumer protection laws, as well as by increasing concentration in technology and other markets,” the report of the bill said.

The bill funds the FTC with a total of $194.7 million for protecting consumers and $155 million for promoting competition. The overall FTC FSGG committee budget proposal totals at $349.7 million, marking an increase from both the FY2019 $309.7 million budget and the White House request of $312.3 million.

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