WASHINGTON — A bipartisan duo on the Jan. 6 committee rolled out legislation Monday aimed at preventing future attempts to overturn elections, and House leaders are considering a vote as early as this week.
The Presidential Election Reform Act, introduced by Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., centers on overhauling the Electoral Count Act, an archaic law that governs the counting of electoral votes, which former President Donald Trump and his allies sought to exploit to stay in power after he lost the 2020 election.
The 38-page bill would make it clear that the vice president's role in counting votes is simply ministerial and raise the threshold for objecting to electors from one member of the House and the Senate to one-third of each chamber. It would require governors and states to send electors to Congress for candidates who won the election based on state law before Election Day, according to an official summary, meaning states couldn’t retroactively change their election rules after an election.
The Rules Committee is expected to review the legislation Tuesday. Last week, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., notified members that the full House might consider the bill this week, which could occur as soon as Wednesday.
“Our proposal is intended to preserve the rule of law for all future presidential elections by ensuring that self-interested politicians cannot steal from the people the guarantee that our government derives its power from the consent of the governed,” Cheney and Lofgren wrote in an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal. “We look forward to working with our colleagues in the House and the Senate toward this goal.”
The measure takes a different approach from the Senate's version, the product of months of bipartisan negotiations, which is scheduled for a committee markup this month. For instance, the Senate bill would require one-fifth of each chamber to force a vote to object to electors.
The Senate is moving toward voting on its bill in the lame-duck session between the Nov. 8 election and the seating of the new Congress on Jan. 3. Unlike the House, which needs only a simple majority to pass a bill, the Senate requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, meaning Democrats would need at least 10 Republican votes to send any bill to President Joe Biden's desk for enactment.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Monday that he hadn’t reviewed the Cheney-Lofgren bill, but he endorsed the cause of overhauling election laws.
“We should do this in a timely fashion. The sooner the better,” he said, adding that the lame-duck session is “realistic, at least from a Senate perspective,” as a time frame to vote.
Last week, another bipartisan pair of lawmakers — Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and Fred Upton, R-Mich. — rolled out a separate election reform bill that mirrored the Senate proposal, which was written by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Susan Collins, R-Maine.
But in bringing the Cheney-Lofgren bill to the floor this week, House Democratic leaders are sending a clear signal about where their caucus stands on the issue. Democrats are expected to be unified behind the measure, which will also attract some Republican votes, although it's unclear how many.
"I support any legislation that will prevent another Jan. 6 and strengthen election integrity and protections in our great country," Gottheimer said Monday. "The key is getting this done."