The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved legislation introduced by Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren of California to make it difficult to nullify a future certified presidential election by proposing changes to the electoral counting law.
Cheney and Lovegren, who serve on the House Select Committee to Investigate Jan. 6, 2021, say the recommendations could help prevent a future attack on the U.S. Capitol, and argue that the legislation is critical, pointing to the candidates currently vying for state and federal positions. The level that could affect future elections and those who believe that the election of former President Donald Trump is lying.
The vote was 229 to 203. Nine Republicans joined Democrats in voting on the measure, including Cheney, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Peter Major of Michigan, Tom Rice of South Carolina, Jaime Herrera Butler of Washington State, John Katko of New York, and Fred Upton from Michigan, and Chris Jacobs from South Carolina. New York and Anthony Gonzalez from Ohio.
Supporters of the plan must now decide how to reconcile the differences that exist between the House and Senate version of proposed changes to the Election Counting Act. The Senate plan was tabled by a bipartisan group of senators in July, but it has yet to be voted on.
The bill from Cheney and Lofgren introduces new laws and strengthens existing laws to prevent state officials or members of Congress from subverting election results.
The bill states that “the Electoral Counting Act of 1887 should be amended to prevent any further illegal efforts to annul the presidential election and to ensure a peaceful transfer of presidential power in the future.”
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters earlier on Wednesday that the timing of the legislation was off due to the “moving parts,” one of which are separate public safety and security proposals that are still under negotiation and could get a vote on the advances to the Cheney and Lofgren bill. Hoyer later said the Cheney and Lofgren bill would be voted on Wednesday.
In their article published Sunday in the Wall Street Journal, the couple wrote: “Our proposal aims to preserve the rule of law for all future presidential elections by ensuring that self-interested politicians cannot steal the assurance that our government derives its strength from the consent of the governed.”
Cheney said in a phone call on Tuesday that there were “a lot of similarities” with the Senate version of the bill and that she would continue to work “expeditiously” to reconcile the legislation.
“I think, you know, we’re going to end up in a situation where legislation has a lot of similarities and we can work with it to make sure we get a good bill for the office of the president,” Cheney said.
“We’re not holding up the settlement,” a House aide told CNN. “We think we’re raising the bar for what this law should look like.”
Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican and one of the lead negotiators on Senate legislation focused on electoral count law reform, told CNN she hoped the Senate bill — not the one introduced by Cheney and Lofgren — would be the law. which is eventually passed through Congress.
“I prefer our bill, the product of months of study, and input from constitutional and electoral experts, and one that has won broad bipartisan support,” Collins said.
However, Collins said the differences between the two bills are not intractable.
“I think we can work this out and hopefully we can. I would say our project has broader support from constitutional scholars, election experts and senators,” Collins said, adding that the legislation is already resistant to stalling because it has the support of 10 Republican senators.
Collins said the Senate Rules Committee will approve the Senate bill next week. It remains to be seen whether the Senate will vote on the bill before midterm or if it will be a problem for the lame-duck session.
Cheney said Tuesday that she looks forward to seeing the amendments added to the Senate version of the bill next week because she believes some of the differences can be resolved at that time.
The Wyoming Republican said that bill will eventually become part of the House committee’s recommendations on January 6, but that others will be added when the committee puts out its final report by the end of the year.
“This is clearly part of our legislative recommendations,” Cheney said. “There will be others.”
One of the main differences between the two bills currently is the minimum that a member of Congress can file an objection to state electors. The House bill would require the support of one-third of each chamber to file an objection and a majority vote to support that objection. It identifies five specific and narrow grounds for raising objections. The Senate version of the bill requires only one-fifth of the support in each chamber and does not limit grounds for objections.
Currently, only one member of each objection room is required and there are no restrictions on the types of objections that can be raised. That’s why 147 Republicans from both houses were able to object when Congress met to ratify the election on January 6, 2021, and they cited various reasons for doing so.
The proposed bill addresses any potential delays the state could make to counting and ratifying its votes and creates language to enforce the ratification process for elections.
The legislation states that no person shall “willfully fail or refuse to schedule, count, or report any vote cast in a timely manner and in accordance with applicable state and federal law.”
While the House bill gives states more time to ratify an election, known as the safe port deadline, it suggests stricter guidelines on how to challenge a state vote.
Only the presidential and vice presidential candidates listed on the ballot can appeal the state’s testimony, which will be heard and determined by a three-judge local court panel and only reviewable by the Supreme Court. The legislation sets a clear timeline for how courts need to expedite any election-related appeals. Currently, anyone can challenge state testimony in court.
If a governor refuses to certify the results of an election, and the court orders that they must be ratified, the bill authorizes another state official to certify the results, thus prohibiting governors from getting in the way of the election certification process.
The new deadline for governors to certify their election and select state electors is December 14, postponed from early December, and state electors must meet on December 23, unless the date falls on a weekend. Once the state’s voters certify the election, the voter lists are sent to Congress.
The legislation also clearly defines what accounts for a state’s voter list and makes it clear that states can only submit one list. Under current law, there is scope for a state to submit lists of voters competing in certain situations.
This language is intended to address what happened in 2020, where some states presented alternative electors for Trump who were not the official state-provided electors. The dummy voter scheme, as it became known, is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice and has been pursued by the House Select Committee.
The House bill seeks to reaffirm the Constitution and make clear that the Vice President has no authority to reject official state electoral rolls, delay vote counts, or make any procedural rulings. The Senate bill contains a copy of this provision as well.
The Twelfth Amendment is straightforward; Cheney and Lovegren wrote:
After the 2020 election, Trump tried to persuade then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject state electors, which Pence never did.
The legislation proposed by Cheney and Lofgren also sets criteria for extending Election Day voting in very limited circumstances, including an act of terrorism or natural disaster, which is not currently in the proposed Senate bill.
This story and title have been updated with additional developments.