The House of Representatives has voted to eliminate the Federal public financing system that helps fund presidential campaigns and political conventions.
The chamber approved the measure by a vote of 239-160 on Jan. 26, the same day that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced a similar bill. An estimate from the Congressional Budget Office reveals that ending the program would save taxpayers approximately $617 million over the next decade.
The voluntary public financing system was created in 1976 following the Watergate scandal in an effort to lessen corporate influence on political campaigns. Americans can check a box on their tax returns, which directs $3 to the program.
Representative Tom Cole (R-Okla.), who sponsored the bill, said that even though the contribution is optional, it is obsolete. According to Bloomberg, Internal Revenue Statistics show that the percentage of taxpayers who contributed to the fund in 2007 was 8.3 percent, down from 28.7 percent in 1980.
In 2008, President Barack Obama became the first major-party candidate to turn down money from the public election fund. However, Obama and many Democrats strongly oppose the GOP's efforts to eliminate the fund because they believe that it will boost the presence of special interest groups.
"The bottom line is the system isn't now much used," Thomas Mann, a congressional scholar, told ABC News. "It's not workable. It's outdated."