Sep 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

House passes Jan. 6 panel's bill to reform Electoral Count Act

Rep. Liz Cheney, wearing a teal suit, speaks to Rep. Zoe Lofgren, wearing a red suit jacket and black shirt, at a Jan. 6 committee hearing. Behind them are Reps. Bennie Thompson and Adam Schiff.

Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

The House on Wednesday voted to pass legislation to reform the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to make it more difficult to subvert presidential elections.

Why it matters: The Presidential Election Reform Act was introduced by Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), both members of the Jan. 6 select committee, as a response to the events that culminated with the U.S. Capitol riot.

The details: The bill would require a third of House members to sign onto an objection to certifying a state's presidential electors, a significantly higher threshold than the current requirement of just one House member and one senator.

  • It would also narrow the grounds for filing an objection, while clarifying that the role of the vice president in the process is purely ceremonial.
  • The bill would require governors to transmit the slate of electors chosen by the state's popular vote and allow campaigns to file lawsuits to ensure that happens.

The context: The bill aims to prevent the events that preceded the Capitol riot — particularly related to former President Trump urging supporters that his Vice President Mike Pence could reject electors.

Yes, but: The bill passed 229-203, but just nine Republicans voted for the bill, including Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the other Republican on the Jan. 6 committee.

  • The others who voted for it were Reps. Tom Rice (R-S.C.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), Fred Upton (R-Mich.), John Katko (R-N.Y.), Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) and Chris Jacobs (R-N.Y.)all of whom are either retiring next year or lost their primaries to right-wing challengers.
  • Two Republicans who voted for Trump's impeachment, Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) and David Valadao (R-Calif.), voted against it. Both prevailed in their primaries.
  • Many Republicans cited the involvement of Cheney and the committee as at least one reason for their opposition. Some also cited the fact that the bill didn't go through the regular committee process.

Between the lines: The Senate has an electoral count reform bill that already has support from 10 Republican senators, which is needed to break a filibuster.

  • That bill has slight differences — such as only requiring a fifth of House members to sign onto an objection, rather than a third — but is broadly similar.
  • Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), co-chairs of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, introduced an analogue to the Senate bill in the House last week, but Democratic leaders opted to instead move the Cheney-Lofgren bill this week.
  • Lofgren told Axios on Tuesday that she has been in contact with senators about how to reconcile the two bills.
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