President Biden recently gave a speech in Philadelphia in which he recalled “those long lines of cars stretching miles back, waiting for just a box of food” during the pandemic. Joe Biden is focused on the November election, but the pandemic food woes aren’t in the past. Food banks in Texas (and Kansas and Florida) are “continuing to draw mid-pandemic crowds” of hungry Americans today, parents are struggling to find baby formula, and grocery prices have skyrocketed. Instead of helping serve the basic needs of Americans, Biden is on the campaign circuit. But what’s worse is that Biden has also directed thousands of federal bureaucrats to force feed Americans election promotional materials and run elections, when taxpayers are actually paying them to run the food programs.
Shortly after his inauguration, President Biden issued Executive Order 14019, “Promoting Access to Voting,” directing all federal agencies to “promote the exercise of the right to vote,” provide “education about voter registration and election information” and “combat misinformation.” With a stroke of his pen, Biden dramatically increased the role of federal bureaucrats in elections.
Let’s take a look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) track record in involvement in the states. In a 2019 policy memo, the USDA told states that administer its Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to “dispose of unused, returned WIC infant formula” and is against “donating unused, returned WIC infant formula to entities such as food banks or food pantries.” Burdening state administration in this wasteful policy had destructive results. Implementing the USDA’s recommendation, Georgia officials destroyed 16,459 cans of baby formula since October of last year, even if they were unopened and unexpired. Similar destruction occurred in North Carolina. And now—with the bureaucratic disaster of burdensome regulations and safety inspectors at the FDA who did not act quickly enough—WIC clinics have reduced quantities of formula.
The USDA’s stated mission is to “promote agriculture production that better nourishes Americans” and “to provide economic opportunity through innovation.” It should spend its time and money focusing on food. But Biden wants the USDA—along with all the other agencies—to focus on the midterm elections and interfere with an area left to the state and local governments to run and inform voters about.
In March of this year, the USDA got involved in elections by issuing a memo entitled “Promoting Access to Voting through the Child Nutrition Programs.” The memo directed the USDA to provide “promotional materials” to educate Americans about voter registration and election information. The USDA also directed bureaucrats to charge voter registration services, training, and application processing to the SNAP program administrative funding. In addition, instead of directing bureaucrats to work on food programs (what they were technically hired to do), the federal government is paying USDA employees (as well as the rest of the federal government) to work elections as poll workers or observers, granting them paid administrative leave during the workday.
Congressional oversight leaders wrote a letter to the White House raising legal concerns that the USDA has no power to use taxpayer funds to promote voting. Congress has the constitutional power to tax and direct where said taxes are used. And let’s not forget, it’s a federal election crime to buy votes with food stamps.
The E.O. may violate several federal laws, such as the Anti-Deficiency Act’s prohibition of use of taxpayer funds without congressional authorization, the Hatch Act’s ban on political activity by federal employees on the job, and the National Voter Registration Act’s specifications of the limited role of the federal government in voting.
But it is also a wasteful duplication of government efforts. The U.S. Constitution’s elections clause grants states the primary authority to run elections. And Congress already created a federal independent agency with bipartisan leadership to compile election information—the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
American people are coming to welfare offices hungry for food stamps, baby formula, and other basic necessities, and they are not getting what they asked for. Stop using federal agencies to force-feed us election information. Stop giving Washington bureaucrats salaries to work elections when they are supposed to be working on food programs. We need the president to run the federal government, and stop trying to run elections.