The legislation introduced by Cheney and Lofgren introduces new laws and strengthens existing ones to allow individual state officials or members of Congress to overturn election results.
“The Election Counting Act of 1887 should be amended to prevent future illegal efforts to cancel Presidential elections and to ensure future peaceful transfers of presidential power,” the bill says.
In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, the pair wrote: “Our proposal seeks to preserve the rule of law in all future presidential elections, ensuring that self-interested politicians cannot rob the people of our government. It derives its power from the consent of the governed.”
It’s unclear how many House Republicans will support the plan. House GOP Whip Steve Scalise sent a message to members of the Republican conference Tuesday opposing the bill.
Cheney said in a call Tuesday that there are “many similarities” to the Senate version of the bill and that he will continue to work “quickly” to reconcile the legislation.
“I think, you know, we’re going to end up in a situation that has a lot of similarities and legislation that we can work with to make sure that we get a good bill to the President’s desk,” Cheney said.
“We’re not going to break the engagement,” a House aide told CNN. “We think we’re getting the word out about what this bill should look like.”
“I much prefer our bill, which is the result of months of study, input from constitutional and electoral experts, and a bill that has garnered broad bipartisan support,” Collins said.
Still, Collins said the differences between the two bills are not insurmountable.
Collins said the Senate Rules Committee will mark up the Senate bill next week. It remains to be seen whether the Senate will vote on the bill before midterm or whether it will be the subject of a lame duck session.
Cheney said Tuesday that he is looking forward to seeing what amendments will be added to the Senate version of the bill next week, as he believes some of the differences can be resolved then.
The Wyoming Republican said this bill will ultimately become part of the House committee’s Jan. 6 recommendations, but others will be added when the panel releases its final report by the end of the year.
“This is clearly one of our legislative recommendations,” Cheney said. “There will be others.”
Raising the threshold for Congress to oppose elected officials
Currently, one of the main differences between the two bills is the limitation on the ability of a member of Congress to object to a state’s voters. A House bill would require the support of one-third of each chamber to raise an objection and a majority of votes to sustain that objection. It sets out five specific and narrow grounds for making allegations. The Senate version of the bill requires only one-fifth of support in each chamber and does not limit grounds for objections.
Currently, only one member of each chamber is required to object and there are no restrictions on the types of objections that can be raised. That’s why 147 Republicans in both chambers were able to oppose it when Congress convened on January 6, 2021 to secure the election, citing several reasons for doing so.
Executing the state’s vote counting and certification process
The proposed bill addresses any delays a state may experience in counting and certifying its votes and creates language to enforce the election certification process.
The legislation states that no person shall “willfully fail or refuse to tabulate, count or report a vote that is timely and valid under applicable state and federal law.”
While the House bill gives states more time to secure elections, known as the safe harbor period, it proposes stricter guidelines for how a state’s vote can be challenged.
Only presidential and vice presidential candidates on the ballot can challenge a state’s certification, which would be heard and decided by a three-judge district court panel and reviewable only by the Supreme Court. The legislation sets out a clear timetable for when the courts must fast-track any challenge to the election. Today, anyone can file a state certificate in court.
If a governor refuses to certify the election results and the court orders him to do so, the bill allows another state official to verify the results, thus prohibiting governors from interfering with the election certification process.
The new deadline for governors to choose their election and state electors will end on December 14, pushed back from early December, and state electors must meet on December 23, except the date falls on a weekend. When the state’s elected officials certify the election, the voter rolls are sent to Congress.
The legislation also clearly defines what constitutes a state’s voter list and clarifies that states can only submit one list. Under the current bill, a state is allowed to send competing lists of electors in certain circumstances.
This language is intended to address what happened in 2020, where some states nominated Trump surrogate electors who were not the official electors nominated by the states. The fraudulent voter scheme, as it has come to be known, is being investigated by the Justice Department and has been a thread pursued by the House Select Committee.
Clarifying the role of the Vice President in the Joint Meeting
The House bill seeks to reaffirm the Constitution and make clear that the vice president does not have the authority to reject official state electoral rolls, delay vote counting, or issue procedural rulings. The Senate bill also contains a version of this provision.
“The 12th Amendment is straightforward; it only requires a count,” Cheney and Lofgren wrote.
The legislation proposed by Cheney and Lofgren also sets parameters for extending Election Day voting in very limited circumstances, including an act of terrorism or a natural disaster, which is not in the current Senate bill.