The House of Representatives passed an election law bill today designed to counter President Donald Trump’s legal efforts to decertify some electoral slates in 2021. House Republicans are not pleased with the bill. Rep. Rodney Davis spoke about it at length.
The Presidential Election Reform Act, passed in a mostly-party line vote with a handful of GOP defections. The final vote, coming in at 229–203, included the support of 221 Democrats and nine Republicans.
It will likely pass the Senate, perhaps with modifications.
After the bizarre election of 2020, constitutional lawyer John Eastman said that Vice President Mike Pence had the power under the 12th Amendment to reject some electoral slates. Donald Trump agreed and tried to convince Pence to refuse to certify some electoral slates.
A line in the 12th Amendment was the basis for the questioning. The Amendment was passed after the near-crisis of the election of 1800 which saw Congress go through dozens of ballots before finally declaring Thomas Jefferson the winner.
That line reads “the President of the Senate [i.e., the vice president] shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted.”
Eastman proposed that Pence could legally refuse to count the ballots of states deemed most at risk of election fraud.
Critics say the VP’s role is only ceremonial. Pence agreed, and it went nowhere. Trump adversaries Liz Cheney and Zoe Lofgren sponsored the bill to make it more difficult to contest the election under the 12th Amendment. They are accusing Donald Trump and every Republican who agreed with Donald Trump of breaking the law.
Currently, a vote on the validity of electoral slates can be forced by a single member of the House and a single member of the Senate, causing the House and Senate to have to vote to sustain or strike down the objection. Under the new bill, that figure would be one-third of the House and one-third of the Senate before a vote on an objection could move forward.
Further, Cheney said it would ensure that our election process reflects the people’s will in the future.
“The American people are supposed to decide an election, not Congress,” Lofgren said, repeating comments by Cheney.
House Republicans are critical of the bill.
House Administration Committee Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) said that the bill is “opening the door to mass litigation.” In addition, Davis argued that the legislation tramples state sovereignty over election law.
Davis added that Democrats are “desperately trying to talk about their favorite topic, and that is former President Donald Trump.”
Democrats said the bill was not only a response to Trump but also a way to prevent future objections and mischief from all candidates.
Davis said the 12th Amendment has long been used by both parties to ensure the election results are legitimate.
Davis said lawmakers challenging election results when they see something suspicious “is not an affront to democracy—it’s democracy in action.”