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 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 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.” [Continue reading…]