Bipartisan Support For Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act

Senate leadership does not have committee assignments, but they do have a seat on the Rules Committee. It is rare when leadership attends a committee hearing, so consider this a BFD. Especially when the “Grim Reaper” of the Senate shows up to actually support a bill, rather than to kill it as he usually does.

The Washington Post reports, McConnell, Schumer back bill to prevent efforts to subvert presidential election results:

Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have endorsed a bipartisan electoral count reform bill in the Senate, all but cementing its passage and giving the legislation a boost as Congress seeks to prevent future efforts to subvert presidential election results.

The endorsements followed House passage of a similar bill last week. Both measures aim to stop future presidents from trying to overturn election results through Congress and were driven by the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a mob of Donald Trump supporters seeking to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s win.

The Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), would amend the Electoral Count Act of 1887 and reaffirm that the vice president has only a ministerial role at the joint session of Congress to count electoral votes, as well as raise the threshold necessary for members of Congress to object to a state’s electors.

Speaking on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, McConnell said there was a need to make “modest” updates to the Electoral Count Act.

“Congress’s process for counting their presidential electors’ votes was written 135 years ago. The chaos that came to a head on January 6th of last year certainly underscored the need for an update,” McConnell said. “The Electoral Count Act ultimately produced the right conclusion … but it’s clear the country needs a more predictable path.”

In a statement, Schumer said, “Make no mistake: as our country continues to face the threat of the anti-democracy MAGA Republican movement — propelled by many GOP leaders who either refused to take a stand or actively stoked the flames of division in our country — reforming the Electoral Count Act ought to be the bare minimum of action the Congress takes.”

The Senate Rules Committee, of which Schumer and McConnell are both members, later voted to advance the bill. Schumer voted yes by proxy, while [Insurrection leader] Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) was the lone no vote. Speaking minutes after McConnell had expressed his support for the legislation in committee, Cruz went against his party leader and blasted the bill as “bad policy and … bad for democracy.”

What’s bad for democracy is that a senator who led the insurrection in Congress alogside Rep. Paul Gosar has not be expelled from the Senate, and disqualified from serving in elective office under section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which is how the Constituion was designed to work.

“I understand why Democrats are supporting this bill. What I don’t understand is why Republicans are,” said Cruz, who was one of the first [insurrectionists] to challenge Biden’s win and objected to certifying his victory.

The bill already enjoyed 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 Electoral Count Act of 1887,” Collins and Manchin said in a joint statement last week. “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.”

After the 2020 election, Trump had falsely told his supporters that Vice President Mike Pence had the power to reject electoral votes already certified by the states. Pence did not do so — and has repeatedly emphasized that the Constitution provides the vice president with no such authority. But on Jan. 6, many in the mob that overran the Capitol began chanting, “Hang Mike Pence!” on the mistaken belief that the vice president could have stopped Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.

The House last week passed the similar Presidential Election Reform Act, written by Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), on a 229-203 vote. Cheney and Lofgren argued that the risk of another effort to steal a presidential election remains high, as Trump continues to spread baseless claims of widespread election fraud, and as pro-Trump candidates in state and local elections around the country have embraced those falsehoods.

The Senate and House bills differ chiefly in how much they would change the threshold necessary for members of both chambers to object to a state’s results. Currently, only one member each from the House and Senate are required to object to a state’s electors. The House electoral reform bill would raise that threshold to at least one-third of the members of both the House and Senate, while the Senate version would raise that threshold to at least one-fifth of the members of both the House and Senate.

Schumer had withheld his support because he preferred Democrats’ sweeping voting bill that also addressed access to the polls. But after that bill failed in the Senate because of a lack of Republican support this year, the bipartisan working group forged ahead on a narrower bill that would implement guardrails and clarifications regarding how presidential electors are appointed, submitted and approved.

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Rules panel who had worked on his own electoral bill, said Monday that it was “critical” they pass legislation as soon as possible.

“This isn’t comprehensive voting rights reforms, but it is important because of the danger that we experienced on January 6th,” King told The Washington Post. “It’s critical we do this before next year when we are in the throes of the presidential election.”

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. Several of the Republicans who opposed the bill, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), criticized it as unconstitutional.

On Tuesday, McConnell called the House bill a “non-starter” because of its lack of support from GOP lawmakers [in the Senate.]

“It’s clear that only a bipartisan compromise originating in the Senate can actually become law,” he said. “One party going it alone would be a non-starter. In my view, the House bill is a non-starter. We have one shot to get this right.”

The Biden administration issued a statement last week in support of the House bill, calling it another step in “critically needed reform of the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act.”

“Americans deserve greater clarity in the process by which their votes will result in the election of a President and Vice President,” the Office of Management and Budget said. “As [the Presidential Election Reform Act] proceeds through the legislative process, the Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to ensure lasting reform consistent with Congress’ constitutional authority to protect voting rights, tally electoral votes, and strengthen our democracy.”

The Senate is widely expected to vote on the measure in a lame-duck session in December.

Because Republicans do not want to go on record before election day and incur the wrath of the MAGA/QAnon enemies of democracy whose votes they still need for election.

1 thought on “Bipartisan Support For Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act”

  1. What does Congress intend to do to address this nightmare scenario? “Millions of Americans believe force justified to restore Trump to White House, University of Chicago study finds”,

    More than 18 months after the rioting at the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, an estimated 13 million U.S. adults, or 5% of the adult population, agree that force would be justified to restore former President Donald Trump to the White House and an estimated 15 million Americans believe force would be justified to prevent Trump from being prosecuted , should he be indicted for mishandling classified documents, according to a new study from the University of Chicago. (

    “We have not just a political threat to our democracy, we have a violent threat to our democracy,” Dr. Robert Pape, the director of the University of Chicago’s Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST) told “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan on Sept. 18. “Today, there are millions of individuals who don’t just think the election was stolen in 2020; they support violence to restore Donald Trump to the White House.”

    The 13 million estimated in the early September survey actually represents a reduction since June 2021, when an estimated 23 million Americans had insurrectionist sentiment. CPOST researchers extrapolated data from over 3,000 nationally representative survey participants who responded to surveys in June and September of 2021, and April and September of 2022, to reach their conclusions in the study.

    Pape and his research team found that the willingness to use violence to put Trump back in the White House was largely driven by unfounded and racist fears about a “Great Replacement” of White people by immigrants and about QAnon, a set of conspiracy theories involving sex trafficking by Democrats and liberal elites and corruption. According to the study, 61% of those who favored insurrection were fueled by fears of a Great Replacement, and 48% of those surveyed believed in QAnon.

    “[Great Replacement] is a conspiracy theory, but it’s not just on fringe social media like Parler or Gab, 4chan or 8chan” Pape said. “This is every day on Fox News, it’s on Newsmax, it’s on One America, it’s on talk radio.”

    [P]ape also spoke of Trump’s association with QAnon, noting that the former president recently played a QAnon theme song at one of his rallies, and he reposted a video filled with references to the conspiracy. A central tenant of QAnon belief is thatTrump is one of few politicians capable of bringing down a cabal of sex trafficking politicians and political elite.

    “The former president is willing to court not just supporters of his, but those who support violence for his goals, number one of which is being restored to the White House,” Pape said. “He is deliberately stoking not just the fires of anger getting him political support, but the fires that are leading to that violent 13 [million].”

    Voicing his concerns about the upcoming midterm elections, Pape said, “If it’s just a political threat, well, then we can have elections. Once it’s not just denying an election, but using violence as the response to an election denial, now we’re in a new game.”

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