A bipartisan group of lawmakers is entertaining a plan to reform the Electoral Count Act amid the anniversary of January 6 on Thursday and Democrats’ efforts to reform the filibuster to pass a pair of election overhaul bills.
The Hill reports that the effort, which has found footing with Democrats like California Representative and 1/6 committee member Zoe Lofgren, has spread to more moderate voices like Maine Senator Angus King, an Independent who caucuses with Democrats, and moderate Democratic Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema. The move has also caught the attention of Republican Senate Leadership.
“Wholly aside from all the other things they’re discussing, this is something that’s worth discussing,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), via The Hill.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) added that Senate Republicans believe “that there are some things there that could be fixed,” and that “there’s been some expression of interest” by several members.
“There are several things I think you could [change] if you were looking at doing it,” Thune told The Hill, but he added that “I don’t think anybody’s come to any conclusions.”
Senators have floated several ideas, The Hill reports, including clarifying the vice president’s role in the counting process, and upping the number of votes needed to object to a state’s electoral count from just one Senator and one House member to one-third of both chambers.
“I think the role of the vice president needs to be codified, so it’s clear what that is,” Thune said.
“I think the last time [former Vice President Mike] Pence followed precedent,” Thune added. “There’s some question about how many senators it ought to take, or House members it ought to take to object before it triggers a vote, I mean there’s questions around that.”
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY), who has promised to force a vote on changing the Senate rules in order to ram through a pair of Democratic election overhaul bills, blasted Republicans’ discussions, arguing that they are not going far enough.
“Let me take this opportunity to make clear that plan, the McConnell plan that’s what it is, is unacceptably insufficient and even offensive,” Schumer complained in a speech on the Senate floor Thursday. “Score-keeping matters little if the game is rigged.”
The Biden administration has also asserted that it wants the two voting bills passed, and that an overhaul of the counting process is an unacceptable compromise.
“The President has been crystal clear that the pending voting rights legislation, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, are essential for protecting the constitutional right to vote, the rule of law, and the integrity of our elections against un-American attacks based on the Big Lie,” said White House spokesperson Andrew Bates, via Politico. “There is no substitute. Period.”
McConnell himself slammed Democrats Thursday for attempting to use the anniversary of the January 6 Capitol riot in order to rationalize their efforts to pass the voting bills. The Daily Wire reported:
After reflecting on the seriousness of the criminal behavior of that day, McConnell focused his attention on the Democrats’ treatment of the January 6 anniversary. “[It] has been stunning to see some Washington Democrats try to exploit this anniversary to advance partisan policy goals that long predated this event,” he said. “It is especially jaw-dropping to hear some Senate Democrats invoke the mob’s attempt to disrupt our country’s norms, rules, and institutions as a justification to discard our norms, rules, and institutions themselves.”
While McConnell doesn’t specify exactly what “norms, rules, and institutions” the Democrats are trying to discard, it’s likely that he is referring to recent Democrat attempts to change Senate rules to pass voting rights legislation. On Monday, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he would move to change Senate rules by January 17 unless Republicans stop blocking Democratic efforts to pass their voting rights bill.