WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats vote this week on amendments to a 19th-century bill to certify presidential elections, their strongest legislative response yet to the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising, and former President Donald Trump’s efforts to reverse his 2020 election defeat to make.
The vote on the revision of the Electoral Count Act, expected Wednesday, comes as a bipartisan group of senators moves forward on a similar bill. Lawmakers in both parties have said they want to change the secretive law before it is challenged again.
Trump and his allies tried to use the law’s vague language in the weeks after the election as they devised a strategy to keep Joe Biden out of office, including lobbying Vice President Mike Pence to simply object. against the certification of Biden’s victory when Congress counted the election. vote on January 6.
Pence declined, but it was clear in retrospect that there was no real legal framework or refuge from which to respond under the Act of 1887 had the vice president attempted to block the count. The House and Senate bills would better define the vice president’s ministerial role and make it clear that he or she has no say in the final outcome.
Both versions would also make it harder for lawmakers to object if they don’t like the results of an election, clarify laws that allow a state’s vote to be postponed, and ensure there is only one slate of legal voters. is from every state. A strategy of Trump and his allies has been to create alternative voter lists in key states that Biden won, with the ultimately failed idea that they could be voted for on January 6 during congressional certification and the election would be thrown back to Trump.
“We need to make this easier to respect the will of the people,” said Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn, chair of the Senate Rules Committee, whose committee will vote on the bill next week. “We don’t want to risk January 6 happening again,” she said.
The bills are in response to the violence that day, when a mob of Trump supporters rushed past police, broke into the building and interrupted Biden’s certification. The mob echoed Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud and called for Pence’s death after it became clear he would not try to undo the election.
Democrats in both chambers have sensed even more urgency on the issue as Trump contemplates a new presidential election and still claims the election was stolen. Many Republicans say they believe him, even though 50 states have certified Biden’s victory and courts across the country have rejected Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud.
While the House vote is expected to fall largely along party lines, the Senate bill has some support from Republicans and its supporters hope they will get the 10 votes they need to break a filibuster and make it into the 50-50 Senate to pass. But that can be tricky during November’s midterm election campaigns, and the Republicans who are most supportive of Trump are sure to oppose it.
The Senate rules panel is expected to approve the measure next Tuesday, with some adjustments, though a ground vote will most likely wait until November or December, Klobuchar said.
While similar, the House version is more comprehensive than the Senate bill, and the two chambers will have some key differences that lawmakers will have to resolve. House legislation was introduced Monday by House Administration Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, both members of the House panel that investigated the January 6 uprising.
Like the Senate bill, House legislation would require there to be a single set of voters from each state to be submitted by the governor. The House law would also narrow the grounds on which members of Congress could object to a state’s electoral votes and raise the threshold for the number of objections that would be required. Currently, the House and Senate each debate and vote on whether or not to accept a state’s voters if there is only one objection from each chamber.
House law would instead require one-third of the House and one-third of the Senate to object to a particular state’s voters in order to vote. The Senate bill would require one-fifth of each chamber to object.
Two such votes were held on January 6, 2021, after the rioters cleared up because GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri joined dozens of members of the House in objecting to Biden’s victories in Arizona and Pennsylvania. Both the House and Senate voted to certify the legitimate results.
Lofgren said the American people should decide the election, not Congress.
People seeking to undo the election “used ambiguous language and a low threshold to allow Congress to play a role they really shouldn’t,” she said.
The House bill’s general similarities with the Senate version could signal that House members are willing to compromise to get the legislation passed. Some members of the House had criticized the Senate bill for not going far enough. Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a member of both the Jan. 6 committees and the House Administration, had said this summer that the Senate bill was not “remotely enough” to address the challenges of the current law.
House members know, however, that they will have to make some concessions to make it through the 50-50 Senate. There are currently nine GOP senators and seven Democrats on the Senate bill sponsored by the centrist Sens. Joe Manchin, DW.V., and Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Collins said on Monday: “I believe we can work this out, and I hope we can.”
The bipartisan group of senators worked for months to agree on a way to revamp the process, eventually arriving at a series of proposals that were submitted in July.
Klobuchar’s Republican counterpart on the Senate Rules Committee, Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, has also backed.
“This is something we shouldn’t take into another election cycle,” Blunt said during a Senate hearing in August.