WASHINGTON — The House passed a bill Wednesday that would make it harder for lawmakers to object to presidential election results.
The bill passed with a vote count of 229 in favor to 203 against with nine republicans in support.
The bill would update the outdated Electoral Count Act of 1887 with the aim of preventing another insurrection like the one on Jan. 6, 2021, when then-President Donald Trump incited a riot at the Capitol as part of his effort to undo his loss in the 2020 election.
Res. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who both serve on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, introduced the Presidential Election Reform Act this week. The bill would disallow the vice president from interfering with the electoral college result and raise the threshold for lawmakers to raise objections.
“The president had whipped up a mob, told them that the vice president could overturn the election, and a majority of the Republicans in this house voted to reject the decision made by American voters, as reflected in the electoral college, for no reason whatsoever other than sham fraud claims,” Lofgren said on the House floor Wednesday.
Republicans cast the bill as a partisan attempt to persecute Trump, ignoring the fact that the bill’s main author is also a Republican.
“Unfortunately, there was no bipartisan effort to address the significant concerns that I and so many others have with the Electoral Count Act,” Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) told HuffPost. “This is just yet another partisan whack at Donald Trump by his partisan enemies in Congress.”
The House vote sets up an eventual showdown with the Senate, where a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) has drafted a similar bill called the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act. While the two bills are generally similar, some key differences will have to be reconciled before President Joe Biden can sign any changes into law.
Both bills would make it clear that a vice president cannot alter the results of a presidential election and plays no other role beyond overseeing the counting process. The bills also make it more difficult for members of Congress to object to a state’s electors. Instead of a single lawmaker from each chamber, the House bill would require one-third of each chamber to raise an objection while the Senate bill requires only one-fifth.
It is unclear whether the Senate will vote on the bill before the midterm elections. But the legislation already has support from 10 Republicans, meaning it already has enough support to clear the Senate.
Manchin said Congress would pass the bill before new members are sworn in come January, and suggested that since the Senate bill requires Republican support, the House would eventually have to accept some changes.
“They can pass those one-side only, we can’t, so there’ll be some adjustments,” Manchin said.