Electoral Count Act: Bipartisan group of senators cuts deal in response to January 6

The proposal still needs to be approved by both chambers and will need 60 votes in the Senate to break any filibuster attempt, meaning at least 10 Republicans would be needed to support any legislation. Announcement of the plan kicks off what is expected to be a challenging, months-long process to get the deal passed into law before the end of the year.

The deal is the culmination of months of negotiation led by Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, along with an additional six Democrats and eight Republicans. The proposal unveiled Wednesday is split up into two bills.

One of the bills is focused on modernizing and overhauling the Electoral Count Act, an 1887 law that Trump had sought to exploit and create confusion over how Congress counts Electoral College votes from each state. As part of that proposal, senators are attempting to clarify that the vice president only has a ceremonial role in overseeing the certification of the electoral results. The proposal also includes key provisions intended to promote an orderly transition of presidential power by outlining guidelines for when eligible candidates can receive federal resources for a transition into office. The bill is co-sponsored by the nine Republicans and seven Democrats who announced the deal.

According to a fact sheet on the legislation, the proposal dealing with the vice president’s role would make clear that the responsibility is “solely ministerial and that he or she does not have any power to solely determine, accept, reject, or otherwise adjudicate disputes over voters.”

Provisions of the bill dealing with an orderly transition of power would make it so that it would be possible to limit resources for a transition of power to only the apparent winner of an election if the outcome of an election is clear.

The second bill is aimed at improving election security and would enhance federal penalties for anyone who threatens or intimidates election officials as well as increase penalties for the tampering with election records. The bill is co-sponsored by five Republicans and seven Democrats.

While constitutional experts say the vice president currently can’t disregard a state-certified electoral result, Trump pushed then-Vice President Mike Pence to obstruct the Electoral College certification in Congress as part of his pressure campaign. But Pence refused to do so and, as a result, became a target of the former President and his mob of supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia said the bill would make it harder to overturn an election when a joint session of Congress convenes to certify a presidential election.

“Anything we can do and show to the American public that we realize how serious that day was, and that we’re going to do all we can to prevent a repeat of January 6th, is a step in the right direction,” he said .

“Any future vice president cannot, should not, will not be able to overturn legitimate votes of Americans and their electors that states vote,” Warner said.

CNN’s Morgan Rimmer and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.


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