WASHINGTON – House Republicans succeeded Thursday in eliminating federal funding to ACORN, the community organizing group that has come under heavy fire in the wake of damaging undercover videos that purport to show counselors giving advice on tax fraud to a "pimp" and "prostitute."
The House voted 345-75 to strike ACORN funding from a student aid bill with two voting present.
The Defund ACORN Act prohibits any "federal contract grant, cooperative agreement or any other form of agreement (including a memorandum of understanding" from being awarded to or entered into with the group. It also prohibits federal funds "in any other form" from being provided.
Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, suggested the vote is essentially symbolic because the student aid bill did not actually provide any funding to ACORN.
However, the language refers to all federal contracts so it applies to any federal money.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who introduced the "motion to recommit" attached to the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009, said the decision followed a Senate vote on Monday to strip housing funds for ACORN and the Census Bureau's decision last week to cut ties to the group.
"The battle, however, to deny ACORN federal funding is not over until the president signs the bill into law. ACORN gave significant support to Democrats and Americans must remain vigilant to avoid backtracking or efforts to water down prohibitions denying Federal funds to this corrupt organization," said
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., applauded the vote.
"ACORN has violated serious federal laws, and today, the House voted to ensure that taxpayer dollars would no longer be used to fund this corrupt organization," he said in a written statement. "All federal ties should be severed with ACORN, and the FBI should investigate its activity.
"This united Republican effort to defund ACORN is a victory for the rule of law and taxpayers across the country."
Whether symbolic or not, the vote gives Republicans more momentum as they continue to keep the pressure on ACORN, which is on its heels. It also gave Republicans a move to force Democrats, who control the House, to vote on an issue that may leave some of them vulnerable in next year's mid-term elections.
Republicans now have the firepower to run ads highlighting this vote, saying: "This lawmaker voted against defunding ACORN." The 75 lawmakers who voted "no" and two who voted "present" were all Democrats.
But at least one Democrat who did vote to strip funding, Rep. Zack Space of Ohio, said he was "outraged" by a series of videos taken by two undercover filmmakers dressed up as a pimp and a prostitute in order to get advice at local ACORN establishments on how to set up a brothel in a way that allowed them to pay taxes and get federal grants for housing.
"I am outraged at the actions of ACORN's employees and believe they should be penalized to the full extent of the law," said Space. "Our government must be vigilant in ensuring that organizations that are found to act fraudulently do not receive taxpayer dollars."
FOX News' Chad Pergram contributed to this report.