The bipartisan group of U.S. senators reached an agreement to increase the difficulty of overriding the president’s certified presidential election, the most important congressional decision in the aftermath of former White House chief Donald Trump‘s unrelenting campaign to reverse the election results of the upcoming election.
The bill has to be approved by both chambers and is expected to 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.
A bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate aims to overhaul and modernize the Electoral Count Act, a law established in 1887. The proposal 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. If neither candidate concedes within five days of Election Day, both candidates would be able to receive access to federal transition resources until “it is substantially certain who will win the majority of electoral votes,” according to a fact sheet. Ultimately, only one candidate will be eligible when there is “a clear winner of the election.”
In light of the efforts of American politicians to result in a hijacking of elections in key states, the bill backs up its attempts to prevent a similar situation from happening again.
This bill would make it harder for members of Congress to overturn an election by increasing the number of House and Senate members required to raise an objection to election results. Currently, just one senator can join one House member in forcing each side to vote on whether to throw out results subject to an objection. The bill is co-sponsored by the nine Republicans and seven Democrats who announced the deal. It also specifies that the vice president’s role is “solely ministerial” and that he or she has no power to determine disputes over electors.
This second bill is aimed at enhancing the safety of elections and will increase penalties for threatening or intimidating election officials, as well as increase penalties for tampering with election records. The bill is co-sponsored by five Republicans and seven Democrats.
Constitutional experts said the vice president cannot refuse to certify a state-certified electoral result. However, President Trump tried to persuade Vice President Pence to obstruct the Electoral College certification in Congress as part of his pressure campaign. But Pence refused to do so, becoming a target of the former President and his mob of supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Democratic Sen. Mark Warner said that if passed, this bill would make it harder to overturn an election when a joint session of Congress convenes to certify a presidential election. He said: “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.”
Any future vice president acting in a presidential election cannot, should not, will not be allowed to overturn legal votes of voters across the country, according to Warner.