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Voter count law set to deal Trump another blow

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The House is not the only chamber of Congress taking action this week to counter former President Trump, as legislation to overhaul how Congress counts electoral votes is set to become law.

Less than a day after a House panel investigated Jan. 11. On February 6, 2021, issuing four criminal remands for the former president, the Senate unveiled a $1.7 trillion omnibus government funding package that includes the Voter Count Reform Act (ECRA), marking a second coup in as many days against Trump.

The Electoral Count Reform Act, an update of the Electoral Count Act of 1887, raises the threshold for objection to Electoral College votes from one member in each house to one-fifth of the members in both houses . Unlike the House panel’s criminal referral that may or may not go anywhere — the Justice Department is not obligated to review referrals to Congress — the Senate-brokered bill marks concrete action against Trump which is expected to be signed into law by the end of the week.

“It will undoubtedly save our democracy,” said the senator. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who helped broker the proposal, told The Hill. What we have written is not infallible. Malicious actors could still steal an election, but that makes it a whole lot harder.

The effort comes two years after Trump and his allies tried to use the 135-year-old statute to block certification of the 2020 presidential election.

In addition to raising the threshold, the bill clarifies that the vice president’s role in counting and certifying Electoral College votes is purely ceremonial and that only a state’s governor or other designated official can submit election results.

And the proposal allows the General Services Administration to release transition funds for both candidates if neither has issued a concession five days after the election. However, this would amount to withdrawing funds from the losing candidate once the outcome of the election has been determined.

Sense. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) led negotiations on the measure over the summer. The push intensified ahead of the October recess and included winning support from Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (DN.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Before it was finally included in the end-of-year package.

Of course, the timing of the passage of the Voter Count Reform Act and the findings set forth by the Jan. 6 select committee are largely coincidental. Both had year-end deadlines to get them across the finish line due to the incoming House GOP majority.

However, it turned into something of a one-two punch. And passing reform to the electoral count law was seen as a priority by key lawmakers.

“I think it’s just important to do this before it becomes some kind of problem for the presidential year and has to be changed. We are in broad agreement on the changes,” the senator said. Roy Blunt (Mo.), the top Republican on the Senate Rules Committee, told The Hill. “It will be a good thing.”

“It was never really a problem between 1887 and 2001. Since it became a problem, it has become a problem about three or four times. It’s just an important time to put things right,” continued Blunt, who is retiring. “People have decided, no matter what the law says, they want to read it another way and clarify this law is a good thing.”

Republicans received a key boost on Tuesday, when Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) supported the proposal. Paul argued in an editorial in the Louisville Courier-Journal That the electoral system must be fixed for the Electoral College to write large is not abolished.

“This legislation preserves the Founders’ intent that individual state laws and election results be respected,” Paul wrote. “The enactment of the Voter Count Reform and Presidential Transition Enhancement Act will help demonstrate to both our citizens and the world that our republican form of government, which respects the laws of sovereign states and diverse perspectives of individuals across our common country, will last a long time.

Blunt noted that perhaps the most important element included is a provision that strikes down a nearly 200-year-old law that state lawmakers could use to nullify the popular vote by declaring a “failed election,” noting that the term has never been specifically defined.

“[It] may in some respects be the provision that most needs clarification,” Blunt added.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Trump had not referenced the ECRA effort on his Social Truth page since the start of the week. In contrast, he devoted about a dozen posts to the Jan. 6 criminal referral from the committee to the Department of Justice.

That panel held its final public meeting on Monday, where it voted on the four criminal dismissals, and plans to release the full report of its 18-month investigation on Wednesday.

The Senate-led package was included at the expense of a stricter bill drafted by the Representatives. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), two members of the Jan. 6 commission, it would have required a third of the legislators in each house to oppose it.

The ECRA plan was attached to the omnibus spending bill alongside other items, including funding for Ukraine, a ban on using TikTok on government phones and devices, and money for disaster relief. of disaster.

Among the provisions not included were an extension of the child tax credit, a bill allowing banks to get involved in legal cannabis businesses and sentencing reform.