WASHINGTON — A pair of centrist House lawmakers on Wednesday is rolling out a bill aimed at preventing stolen elections in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack, mirroring bipartisan legislation in the Senate, NBC News has learned.
Moderate Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and Fred Upton, R-Mich., are co-sponsoring the House legislation, known as the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, which would overhaul the antiquated 1887 Electoral Count Act.
They are introducing the bill now to give a boost of momentum to the Senate effort, led by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, with timing running short in this Congress.
Both bills are aimed at preventing future coup attempts by clarifying the limited role of the vice president in counting Electoral College votes, raising the threshold for members of Congress to object to states' presidential electors, beefing up laws around certifying elections for the rightful winner and promoting an orderly presidential transition.
The bipartisan House duo is also trying to get out in front of a rival election-reform bill by two Jan. 6 committee members, Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., the House Administration Committee chair who is close to Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That rival bill is expected to be unveiled this week and be broader than the Gottheimer-Upton bill.
Separately, the Jan. 6 committee is expected to unveil its own set of legislative recommendations this fall to ensure an attempt to overturn a U.S. election, like what happened on Jan. 6, 2021, never happens again.
The flurry of election bills is a response to widespread efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 election results, in part by trying to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence into unilaterally blocking or delaying certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
Gottheimer and Upton believe that their proposal, which already has broad support in the Senate, has the best chance of being signed into law.
“With this bipartisan, bicameral legislation, both sides of the aisle are coming together to protect our great democracy, preserve the integrity of our elections, and prevent any attempts to undermine them. Our nation’s future depends on it and the time to act is now,” Gottheimer, co-chair of the bipartisan Problem Solvers, said in a statement.
“By clearly specifying the procedures for counting electoral votes, this bill provides the clarity voters need to know their vote for president matters,” added Upton, who was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 attack and is retiring this year. “Further it ensures the gamesmanship of political parties will not be a factor in the longstanding presidential selection process.”
The bill's Senate companion recently landed its 10th GOP sponsor in Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, giving it enough support to overcome a filibuster if all 50 Democrats stick together.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other Democrats want to tackle election reform by the end of the year, given that Republicans are unlikely to take up the issue next year if they flip control of the House.
But senators involved in the effort say, due to government funding and other priorities, they likely won't be able to bring the election bill to the floor until the post-election lame-duck session.
“We are very pleased that Representatives Gottheimer and Upton have introduced the House companion to our legislation that would correct the flaws in the archaic and ambiguous Electoral Count Act of 1887,” Collins and Manchin said in a joint statement.
“Their leadership helps build momentum to pass these significant and much-needed reforms. We will continue to work with our colleagues to increase bipartisan, bicameral support for this legislation.”