The Electoral Counting Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement ActSens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.), amends the Election Counting Act of 1887 to reaffirm that the Vice President has only a ministerial role in a joint session of Congress to count electoral votes, as well as to raise the threshold necessary for members of Congress to oppose state electors. .
Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, McConnell said there is a need to make “modest” updates to the vote count law.
“Congress’s process for counting presidential electoral votes was written 135 years ago. The chaos that came to a head on January 6 of last year certainly underscores the need for an update,” McConnell said. “The Voter Count Act ultimately produced the right result … but it’s clear the country needs a more predictable path forward.”
Then the Senate Rules Committee, of which both Schumer and McConnell are members, voted to advance the bill. Schumer voted yes by proxy, while Sen. Only Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) voted no. Minutes after McConnell voiced his support for the legislation in committee, Cruz went against his party leader and blasted the bill as “bad policy and… bad for democracy.”
“I understand why Democrats support this bill,” Cruz said. “What I don’t understand is why Republicans exist.”
The bill already has strong bipartisan support, with 11 Democratic and 11 Republican senators signing on to co-sponsor it before Tuesday.
“We are pleased that bipartisan support continues to grow for these sensible and much-needed reforms to the Election Counting Act of 1887,” Collins and Manchin said in a joint statement last week. “Our bill is supported by election lawyers and organizations across the ideological spectrum. We will continue to work to increase bipartisan support for our legislation that fixes the flaws in this antiquated and ambiguous law.
After the 2020 election, President Donald Trump falsely told his supporters that Vice President Mike Pence had the power to reject electoral votes already certified by states. Pence did not — and repeatedly insisted The Constitutional Vice President has no such power. But on Jan. 6, many of the pro-Trump mobs that took over the Capitol chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!” They started chanting. In the mistaken belief that the vice president could have prevented Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.
The council passed a similar resolution last week Presidential Election Reform Act, authored by Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) in a 229-203 vote. Cheney and Lofgren argued As Trump continues to spread baseless claims of widespread election fraud, and pro-Trump candidates in state and local elections across the country embrace those lies, the risk of another attempt to steal the presidential election is high.
The Senate and House bills differ in how much they would change the threshold required for members of both chambers to oppose a state’s decisions. Currently only one member each from the House and Senate must make a protest to a state’s electors. The House election reform bill would raise that threshold to at least one-third of the membership of both the House and Senate, while the Senate version would raise that threshold to at least one-fifth of the membership of both the House and the Senate. .
Schumer dropped his support because he also wanted access to referendums on the Democrats’ overwhelming ballot bill. But after that bill failed in the Senate earlier this year due to lack of Republican support, a bipartisan caucus created a short bill that would implement safeguards and clarifications on how presidential nominations are designated, submitted and authenticated.
A member of the rules committee that worked on his own election bill, Sen. Rep. Angus King (I-Maine) said Monday it was “critical” they pass the legislation as soon as possible.
“It’s not about comprehensive voting rights reforms, but it’s important because of the danger we experienced on January 6,” King said told the Washington Post. “It’s very important to do this while we’re in the thick of the presidential election before next year.”
Unlike the Senate bill, the House bill saw little support from GOP lawmakers. Only nine Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the measure, and none of those nine will be members of Congress next year — either because they lost their primaries or chose to retire. Many House Republicans who opposed the bill, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), criticized it as unconstitutional.
On Tuesday, McConnell called the House bill a “non-starter” because it lacked support from GOP lawmakers.
“It’s clear that only a bipartisan compromise in the Senate can actually become law,” he said. “A party going it alone is a non-starter. In my view, the House bill is a non-starter. We have one shot to get this right.
The Biden administration released a statement last week in support of the House bill, calling it another step in “important reform of the 135-year-old vote count law.”
“Americans deserve greater clarity in the process by which their votes result in presidential and vice presidential elections,” the Office of Management and Budget said. “So [the Presidential Election Reform Act] Moving forward through the legislative process, the Administration looks forward to working with Congress to ensure consistent reform with Congress’s constitutional authority to protect voting rights, count electoral votes, and strengthen our democracy.
Lee Ann Caldwell contributed to this report.
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