Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced on Tuesday that he expects there will be action on the Electoral Count Act reform before the new Congress takes over in January.
The Democratic leader said he anticipates the end-of-year omnibus spending bill that’s currently being negotiated will include reform on the outdated 1887 law — which lays out how presidential electors are counted in Congress.
“I expect an omnibus will contain priorities both sides want to see passed into law, including more funding for Ukraine and the Electoral Count Act,” Schumer said.
Democrats and a handful of Republicans have been negotiating ECA reform for the past year, with Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) announcing they’d come to a bipartisan agreement this summer. But it’s been unclear for some time whether the legislation would pass during the lame duck session.
ECA reform would clarify the vice president’s role in certifying a presidential election as ceremonial and ministerial and make it clear that he or she does not have the sole power to address disputes over electors. It would also raise the threshold for Congress to invalidate legitimate electors and for state legislatures to override the popular vote in their states.
“It will be great to get that done,” Schumer added, referring to the Electoral Count Reform Act.
During his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, former President Trump’s team tried to take advantage of some of the ambiguous language in the 135-year-old law, repeatedly and falsely claiming that then-Vice President Mike Pence had the power to unilaterally throw out elector votes during the official certification process.
Trump pressured Pence to go along with his plan to overturn the election even after he was told it was unconstitutional, as the Jan. 6 House select committee’s investigation has revealed.
This was all part of the larger and organized effort by members of the Trump White House, Congress, state-level politicians, and far-right activists to overturn Trump’s loss in the 2020 election. The 2,300 text messages — first reported on by TPM — that Mark Meadows, former Trump White House chief of staff, turned over to the Jan. 6 committee provides new revelations into these efforts.
Pence did resist Trump’s order to stop the electoral count. But that made him a clear target for the thousands of MAGA loyalists who attacked the Capitol on the day of the electoral certification, chanting “Hang Mike Pence!”
Many experts have been concerned for a time now about whether the bipartisan group of senators will be able to pass ECA reform before a divided Congress takes over in the new year. The reforms has been framed as “anti-Trump” by some MAGA Republicans, bolstering concerns that it might not receive support from the 10 GOP senators needed to avoid a filibuster.
The House has already passed a version of this bill in September, after all Democrats and nine Republicans voted in favor of it.