Sunday, February 5

House to begin voting on Electoral Count Act reform bill

The House will begin voting Wednesday on a bill to reform the Electoral Count Act, an effort by Republican Rep. Liz Cheney and others to prevent another Jan. 6, 2021, when pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol in an effort to disrupt the counting of electoral votes from the 2020 presidential election. 

The Presidential Election Reform Act, sponsored by Cheney and fellow House Jan. 6 committee member Rep. Zoe Loefgren, ensures that Congress receives an electoral certificate from each state that accurately reflects the will of the voters, requires Congress to count electoral votes as the Constitution stipulates, and reaffirms that the vice president’s role in approving electoral votes is merely ministerial, after former President Trump publicly urged then-Vice President Mike Pence to to “reject fraudulently chosen electors.” Pence refused, saying he had no authority to do so. 

The bill also increases the threshold for any objection made in the House or Senate to a state’s electoral votes, from one member of each chamber to one-third member of each chamber. 

The bill is expected to pass in the House, although how much Republican support it will receive is unclear. House GOP leaders are encouraging Republican members to vote against the bill. The measure will still need to pass the Senate before it can be signed by President Biden. 

The first vote on the Presidential Election Reform Act Wednesday is procedural; the timing for the vote on final passage of the bill has not yet been announced. 

“What Donald Trump tried to convince the vice president to do was illegal under existing law and we begin by affirming that but we need to then take steps to make sure that another Jan. 6 is something that never happens again,” Cheney said on a call Tuesday. 

In the Senate, Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin announced Wednesday that a similar bill, the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, now has 10 GOP cosponsors and 10 Democratic cosponsors. The fact that there are 10 Republicans signing on as cosponsors indicates there is enough support to pass the bill in the Senate.

“We are pleased that bipartisan support continues to grow for these sensible and much-needed reforms to the Electoral Count Act of 1887,” Manchin and Collins said in a statement Wednesday. “Our bill is backed by election law experts and organizations across the ideological spectrum. We will keep working to increase bipartisan support for our legislation that would correct the flaws in this archaic and ambiguous law.”

— Rebecca Kaplan contributed to this report 

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