The House and Senate each passed bills this week that would strip ACORN of taxpayer money, but it may not be so easy to halt federal funding for the scandal-plagued community organizing group.
The measures to de-fund ACORN won the support of both Republicans and Democrats, but they were passed as amendments to separate, unrelated bills -- setting up a potentially drawn-out process to reconcile the differences in the legislation.
But since the anti-ACORN measure has bipartisan support, why not simplify?
That's the idea behind Republican House Minority Leader Boehner's push for a stand-alone vote to ensure that taxpayer dollars will no longer be used to fund the organization, which has been reeling from a scandal involving undercover videos that purport to show ACORN workers advising a couple posing as a pimp and prostitute on how to skirt the law.
The House voted Thursday, 345-75, on a provision attached to a student aid bill to halt funding for the organization, which typically supports liberal causes. Democrats supplied all of the "no" votes, but even so, a majority backed the measure forwarded by Republicans. The Senate on Thursday passed a similar measure, 85-11, but it was attached to an Interior Department spending bill.
Rather than deal with the prospect of reconciling two versions of two different bills in the House and Senate, Boehner advocates passage of what he is calling the Defund ACORN Act.
"Now that the House has spoken in such resounding fashion, Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi should schedule an up-or-down vote," Boehner said in a statement released Friday. "The sooner we can send the Defund ACORN Act as a stand-alone bill to the Senate, which has already voted to deny federal funds to this corrupt outfit, the sooner we can get it to the president's desk," he said.
A non-partisan grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people, ACORN -- the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now -- has received an estimated $53 million in federal aid since 1994. The group has come under fire in recent weeks after videos surfaced showing some workers in several cities giving tax advice to an undercover filmmaker who, purporting to be a pimp, says he wanted to run a brothel.
Separately, 11 ACORN workers were arrested in Miami on Sept. 9 on charges of voter registration fraud -- including registering the name of late actor Paul Newman. In March 2008, an ACORN worker in Pennsylvania was sentenced for making 29 phony voter registration forms. And in 2007, Washington State filed felony charges against several ACORN employees and supervisors for more than 1,700 fraudulent voter registrations.
The U.S. Census Bureau severed all ties with the organization following the videos' release, and the Senate voted Tuesday to bar funding to the group.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Wednesday said the conduct seen on the tapes "is completely unacceptable." He said the Obama administration "takes accountability extremely seriously" and noted that the Census Bureau had determined that ACORN could not meet its goal for conducting a fair and accurate count next year.
House Speaker Pelosi called the latest allegations against ACORN "horrible." However, she pointed out that ACORN has many honest employees and was conducting an internal investigation, and that it was up to House-Senate negotiators to determine whether the provision to cut funding would be in the final version of the bill.
ACORN has said it believes the undercover videos may have been doctored to appear more objectionable, and said it plans to launch its own independent investigation of the incidents. The group, which has been instrumental in raising the minimum wage and reducing discriminatory credit practices against those living in poor communities, stressed that the incidents in question represent isolated cases.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.