WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House voted Thursday to end all federal funding to ACORN, the controversial anti-poverty group that has come under criticism following investigations into the conduct of its employees.
The 345 to 75 vote followed a similar, but less sweeping, vote in the Senate, which barred funds in the transportation-HUD appropriations bill for fiscal year 2010 from going to the group.
All of the Minnesota’s members except Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum voted to support the House measure, which was attached to the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009.
The federal action comes in the wake of a series of investigations involving ACORN employees. Most recently, Miami-Dade prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 11 ACORN employees and charged them with falsifying 888 of 1,400 voter registration cards.
Video footage has also recently surfaced of ACORN employees advising a pair of conservative activists, posing undercover as a pimp and a prostitute, on how to get around the tax and housing law.
“This is an organization that needs to clean up its act,” Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., said in a statement Thursday.
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who has pushed for ACORN to be cut off from federal funding, applauded the vote.
“For several months now, I have been calling for the House to strip taxpayer funding to ACORN and finally, the Democrat majority has come to their senses and done just that,” Bachmann said in a statement.
After the vote, the Minnesota GOP issued its own statement, calling ACORN a “national disgrace” and rebuking McCollum and Ellison.
“Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum ought to be ashamed for voting against defunding this corrupt organization,” wrote Tony Sutton, the Minnesota Chairman of the Republican Party. “The taxpayers of America should never, ever, give this notorious outfit another cent.”
Ellison, however, responded that the vote was “nothing more than a procedural gimmick designed to politicize an important student loan affordability bill.”
“The issues surrounding ACORN are irrelevant to the bill,” Ellison said in a statement. “I won’t cooperate with these kinds of political shenanigans.”
Bill Harper, McCollum’s chief of staff, struck a similar note, calling the measure “just another pathetically hypocritical game.”
Harper also pointed out that while ACORN employees have been investigated, ACORN has never been convicted of a felony.
“A few bad apples doesn’t ruin the whole apple orchard,” he said.
In a statement, ACORN Chief Executive Officer Bertha Lewis called the action disappointing and politically convenient.
The House bill would still need to pass the Senate to become law.