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Congress Passes First Legislative Response to Jan. 6 Capitol Attack


Congress passed a measure to make it harder to cancel a certified presidential election, a major moment that marks the first legislative response to the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol and the president’s relentless pressure campaign Donald Trump to stay in power despite his defeat in 2020.

The legislation, which would revise the 1887 Voter Count Act, was included as part of a massive $1.7 trillion government funding bill that the Senate passed on Thursday and the House passed on Friday. It will now go to President Joe Biden to be signed into law.

The voter count law overhaul measure would clarify that the vice president’s role in overseeing the certification of election results to Congress is strictly ceremonial. This would raise the threshold to make it harder for lawmakers to force votes attempting to overturn a state’s certified result. Additionally, it includes provisions that would prevent efforts to pass fake voters to Congress.

The bill is the result of intense bipartisan negotiations that won support from top Republicans, including Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell. But a number of House Republicans have pushed back on efforts to overhaul the election law. So, with Republicans poised to take control of the House soon, lawmakers insisted on sending the bill to Biden’s office, knowing it was likely to be condemned in the next Congress.

The senses. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, and Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, announced on Tuesday that the bill had been included as part of the broader government funding package.

“We are pleased that our legislation has been included in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill and we are grateful to have the support of so many of our colleagues. We look forward to seeing this bill enacted,” the senators said in a joint statement.

The Electoral Count Act is an 1887 law that Trump sought to exploit and confuse about how Congress counts each state’s Electoral College votes in a presidential election. Constitutional experts say the vice president cannot currently ignore a state-certified election result, but Trump pushed then-Vice President Mike Pence to block Electoral College certification in Congress. as part of its pressure campaign. Pence refused to do so and as a result became the target of the former president and his crowd of supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6.

The new legislation seeks to clarify that the vice president has only a ceremonial role in overseeing the certification of election results – and does not have the authority to unilaterally accept, reject or settle disputes over election results. voters.

It would also be more difficult for members of Congress to attempt to nullify an election by raising the threshold for the number of House and Senate members required to object to election results when a joint session of Congress convenes to certify them.

The legislation “raises the threshold for filing a voter objection to at least one-fifth of the duly chosen and sworn members of the House of Representatives and the Senate,” according to a backgrounder. Under current law, a single senator can join a member of the House in forcing each side to vote on whether to reject the results subject to objection.

The bill also includes changes intended to prevent attempts to install fake voters. For example, each state’s governor would be responsible for submitting a certificate that identifies voters — and Congress would not be able to accept a voters list submitted by another official. “This reform would address the risk of multiple state officials sending competing slates to Congress,” the backgrounder said.

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