(Headline USA) After failing in their attempted HR1 power-grab, Democrat lawmakers are working furiously to update the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act, with help this time from some aisle-crossing Republicans.
The effort follows former President Donald Trump’s effort to challenge the disputed certification of the Electoral College’s selection of Joe Biden amid looming concerns over irregularities in the 2020 election.
“So pathetic to watch the Unselect Committee of political hacks, liars, and traitors work so feverishly to alter the Electoral College Act so that a Vice President cannot ensure the honest results of the election, when just one year ago they said that ‘the Vice President has absolutely no right to ensure the true outcome or results of an election,’” Trump said in a statement Tuesday.
The law, which was put in place in the aftermath of the Civil War, and came perilously close to unraveling on Jan. 6, 2021 after Trump pressured Vice President Mike Pence to ditch his ceremonial role presiding over the session and to reject the results.
While Pence ignored the president’s demands that day, Trump continues to insist the vice president “could have overturned the election” while presiding over the Joint Session of Congress.
“[T]hey lied, and the Vice President did have this right or, more pointedly, could have sent the votes back to various legislators for reassessment after so much fraud and irregularities were found,” Trump said in his statement.
“If it were sent back to the legislators, or if Nancy Pelosi, who is in charge of Capitol security, had taken my recommendation and substantially increased security, there would have been no ‘January 6’ as we know it!” he continued. “Therefore, the Unselect Committee should be investigating why Nancy Pelosi did such a poor job of overseeing security and why Mike Pence did not send back the votes for recertification or approval, in that it has now been shown that he clearly had the right to do so!”
Although some on the Left appear to be setting the stage for current Vice President Kamala Harris to attempt a similar disruption in the event that Trump (or another unfavored GOP candidate) wins the 2024 election, NeverTrump RINOs continued to cite the prior administration as their justification for updating the law.
They hoped to offer additional clarity on whether the role of the vice president was simply intended to be ceremonious.
“President Trump’s comments underscored the need for us to revise the Electoral Count Act, because they demonstrated the confusion in the law and the fact that it is ambiguous,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told reporters at the Capitol.
A bipartisan group led by Collins has been meeting behind closed doors and hopes to present a draft as soon as this week.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who remains locked in a bitter rivalry with Trump, said Tuesday he’s open to the effort, saying the Electoral Count Act “is flawed and it needs to be fixed.”
The outcome of the effort remains highly fluid, and could easily collapse, especially as Republicans are wary of crossing Trump and Democrats seek broader changes after their own sweeping election overhaul fell apart last month.
Any update to the 19th century law would likely face the filibuster’s 60-vote threshold in the Senate, meaning the legislation would need bipartisan support in the evenly split chamber to advance.
Yet the effort to change the Electoral Count Act has been gaining political currency, especially with Trump edging toward another run.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. (who was defeated by the Trump–Pence ticket in 2016 and helped running mate Hillary Clinton spread bogus lies about Russian interference) told the Associated Press that after Trump used the word “overturn” in describing his effort to challenge the election, “This does create a sense of urgency to get this done.”
Senators are delving into potential changes to Electoral Count Act with ideas that would make it more difficult to challenge results.
They are also considering ways to protect election workers, who are being harassed at alarming rates nationwide, and funding for election assistance and voting equipment.
Both became issues during the 2020 election after it became clear that partisan activists, funded by billionaire oligarchs including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, had taken charge of many key positions overseeing election management in strategic battleground states.
In cities like Detroit, Milwaukee, Atlanta and Philadelphia, corrupt officials refused to allow Republican poll observers to perform their duties, despite widespread evidence of secret shipments of absentee ballots arriving in the dead of night after the Nov. 3 election.
Some 16 senators, Republicans and Democrats, are working swiftly, with the blessing of party leaders, much the way they did last year to produce the $1 trillion bipartisan “infrastructure” bill President Joe Biden signed into law.
Despite assurances that the federal spending spree would be used for roads and bridges, recent evidence has shown that the Biden administration plans to use billions from that package to implement a mass surveillance state.
While, for many Democrats, the effort to change the Electoral Count Act is not a substitute for their own failed voting rights package, it does represent the opportunity for a potential legislative success, if not the starting point of further discussions.
“Reforming the Electoral College is a good thing to do, but it sure doesn’t replace the need to deal with voting rights, dark money and reapportionment,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
Left-wing activists are pushing Democrats to broaden their scope and include some elements of their failed voting legislation, particularly the John R. Lewis Voting Advancement Act,. They hope to reinstate partisan Justice Department’s role in monitoring elections in mostly Southern red states—a byproduct of the racist Jim Crow laws instituted by Democrats in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Republicans who rejected the John R. Lewis Act as too broad see value in shoring up the more distinct Electoral Count Act system to prevent Trump or any other person who may seek to challenge it.
“I don’t agree that Vice President Pence had that authority, but if that’s an argument that some people find convincing, then I think that it’s appropriate that Congress clarify the law,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.
The bipartisan group is not operating in a vacuum.
Democracy groups for years have warned that the Electoral Count Act, which emerged after the disputed 1876 election that resulted in the withdrawal of troops stationed in the South to uphold laws ending slavery, needs an update.
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, has been working on changes to the Electoral Count Act since last spring, assembling experts and sharing ideas with senators of both parties.
On Tuesday, King, along with Rules Committee Chairman Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the Judiciary Committee chairman, unveiled their draft proposal and shared it with the bipartisan group headed by Collins.
Their proposal includes clarifying that the vice president has “no role” in counting the votes and shifting from the vice president to a senior senator the ceremonial role of presiding over the tally.
King said he hopes the groups can merge their work. Of Trump’s comment, he said, “It underlines why we have to get this done.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press