The US House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill introduced by Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California to make it harder to overturn a certified future presidential election, proposing changes in the Electoral Count Law.
Cheney and Lofgren, who are part of the House select committee investigating Jan. 6, 2021, say the recommendations could help prevent a future attack on the US Capitol and argue this legislation is critical, noting candidates currently running for state and federal office who could impact future elections and who believe former President Donald Trump’s lies about the election.
The vote was 229 to 203. Nine Republicans joined Democrats in voting for the measure, including Cheney, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Peter Meijer of Michigan, Tom Rice of South Carolina, Jaime Herrera Beutler of the state of Washington, New York’s John Katko, Michigan’s Fred Upton, New York’s Chris Jacobs and Ohio’s Anthony Gonzalez.
Supporters of the plan must now decide how to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of the proposed changes to the Voter Count Law. The Senate plan was introduced by a bipartisan group of senators in July but has yet to be voted on.
The Cheney-Lofgren bill introduces new laws and strengthens existing ones to prevent individual state officials or members of Congress from subverting election results.
“The Voter Count Act of 1887 must be amended to prevent future illegal efforts to nullify presidential elections and to ensure future peaceful transfers of presidential power,” the bill says.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters Wednesday that the timeline for the legislation was up in the air due to “multiple variables,” including separate proposals on policing and public safety that were still being worked out. negotiating and that they might get a vote before the Cheney-Lofgren bill. Hoyer said later that the Cheney-Lofgren bill would come to a vote on Wednesday.
In their opinion piece published in The Wall Street Journal on Sunday, they wrote: “Our proposal seeks to preserve the rule of law for all future presidential elections, ensuring that self-serving politicians cannot rob the people of the guarantee that our government derives its power from the consent of the governed.
Cheney said in a phone call Tuesday that there are “many similarities” with the Senate version of the bill and that he will continue to work “quickly” to reconcile the legislation.
“I think that, you know, we’re going to end up in a situation where we have legislation that has a lot of similarities and that we can work with to make sure we get a good bill to the president’s table,” Cheney said.
“We’re not breaking off the compromise,” a House aide told CNN. “We think we’re raising the bar on what this bill should be.”
Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine and one of the main negotiators of the Senate legislation focused on reforming the Voter Count Law, told CNN that she hopes the Senate bill, and not the one introduced by Cheney and Lofgren, be the one that is finally approved in Congress.
“I prefer our bill, which is the product of months of study, input from constitutional and election experts and is a bill that has garnered broad bipartisan support,” Collins said.
However, Collins said the differences between the two bills are not insurmountable.
“I think we can work it out and I hope we do. I would say our bill has broader support from constitutional scholars, election experts and members of the Senate,” Collins said, adding that the The legislation is already filibuster-proof, with the support of 10 Republican senators.
Collins said the Senate Rules Committee will review the Senate bill next week. It remains to be seen if the Senate will get to vote on the bill before the midterm elections or if it will be a matter for discussion by an outgoing Senate.
Cheney said Tuesday that he is looking forward to seeing what amendments are added to the Senate version of the bill next week because he thinks some of the differences could be resolved then.
The Wyoming Republican said this bill will ultimately be part of the House committee’s Jan. 6 recommendations, but others will be added when the panel releases its final report later this year.
“This is clearly one piece of our legislative recommendations,” Cheney said. “There will be others.”
Increased threshold for Congress to object to voters
One of the main differences between the two current bills is the threshold for a member of Congress to raise an objection with a state’s constituents. The House bill would require the support of a third of each house to raise an objection and a majority vote for that objection to stand. It sets out five specific and limited reasons for raising objections.
The Senate version of the bill only requires the support of one-fifth of each chamber and does not restrict the grounds for objections.
Currently, only one member of each chamber is required to object and there are no restrictions on the types of objections that can be raised. That’s why 147 Republicans in both chambers were able to object when Congress met to certify the election on January 6, 2021, citing various reasons for doing so.
Enforce the state vote recount and certification process
The bill addresses any potential backlog a state may have in counting and certifying its votes and creates language to enforce the election certification process.
The legislation says that no person shall “knowingly fail or refuse to tabulate, count or report any vote that has been timely cast and is otherwise valid under applicable state and federal law.”
Although the House bill gives states more time to certify elections, known as the security window, it proposes stricter guidance on how a state’s vote can be challenged.
Only presidential and vice presidential candidates on the ballot can challenge a state’s certification, which would be heard and resolved by a three-judge district court and reviewable only by the Supreme Court. The legislation outlines a clear timetable for the courts to expedite any election-related challenges. Currently, anyone can challenge a state’s certification in court.
If a governor refuses to certify election results, and the court orders that they must be certified, the bill authorizes another state official to certify the results, thus prohibiting governors from hindering the election certification process.
The new deadline for governors to certify their election and state electors to be elected is December 14, pushed back from early December, and state electors must meet on December 23, unless the date falls on a weekend. . Once the state voters certify the election, the voter lists are sent to Congress.
The legislation also clearly defines what a state’s voters list represents and clarifies that states can only submit one list. In the current bill, there is room for a state to submit competitive voter lists in certain situations.
This language is intended to address what happened in 2020, when some states fielded alternate electors for Trump who were not the official electors fielded by the states. The plan of the false voters, as it has been revealed, is being investigated by the Department of Justice and has been a common thread followed by the select committee of the House of Representatives.
Clarify the role of the vice president during the joint session
The House bill seeks to reaffirm the Constitution and make it clear that the vice president has no authority to reject official state electoral lists, delay the counting of votes or issue any procedural resolution. The Senate bill also contains a version of this provision.
“The Twelfth Amendment is direct; it simply requires a recount,” Cheney and Lofgren wrote.
After the 2020 election, Trump tried to get then-Vice President Mike Pence to turn away state voters, something Pence never did.
The legislation proposed by Cheney and Lofgren also establishes parameters for extending Election Day voting in very limited circumstances, including an act of terrorism or a natural disaster, which currently do not exist in the proposed Senate bill.