‘This is a bad bill’: Trump allies push back on McConnell’s ‘commonsense’ argument for ‘Electoral Count Act’

A feud over the Electoral Count Act is brewing in the U.S. Senate between GOP leader Mitch McConnell and more Trump-aligned senators like Ted Cruz.

As previously reported, nine outgoing House Republicans joined Democrats last week in voting for a bill, the Electoral Count Act, that makes it harder for elections to be rejected.

Sponsored by Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat, and Rep. Liz Cheney, an ostensible Republican, the bill specifically makes it significantly harder for both Congress and the vice president to reject the results of an election.

The bill now sits in the Senate, where McConnell announced his support for it in remarks delivered Tuesday:

“The substance of this bill is common sense. It is common sense to modestly increase … the threshold for objections to the electoral count so that Congress still has options in case of truly extraordinary circumstances, but we avoid an arms race where objections with almost no support paralyze the process every four years,” he said.

“It is common sense to make the already clear fact of the 12th Amendment even clearer still: That the vice president obviously has no personal discretionary power over the presidential vote. It is common sense to protect states’ primacy in appointing their electors, but also strengthen requirements that states publicize their rules before the elections and then stick to them.”

McConnell continued, “It is common sense to make technical fixes to other related laws like the Presidential Transitions Act. And it is common sense that our colleagues left chaos-generating bad ideas on the cutting room floor — like a massive federal takeover of election law, or inventing new causes of action for litigation that would throw every election into the courts.”

But a small number of Trump-aligned dissident senators disagree that the Electoral Count Act is just another piece of “common sense” legislation.

Included among these dissident senators is Cruz, who delivered his own remarks Tuesday pushing back on McConnell’s “common sense” theme:

“This bill is a bad bill. … It’s bad policy and it’s bad for democracy. There are serious constitutional questions in the bill. The text of the Constitution, Article Two says, ‘Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors.’ This bill is Congress trying to intrude on the authority of the state legislatures to do that. But it’s also exceptionally bad policy,” he said.

“We know that Democrats aren’t opposed to objecting to elections and presidential electors. We know that because Democrats objected in 1969. And then they objected again in 2001. Then they objected again in 2005. And then they objected again in 2017. So Democrats have a long history of going up and objecting to electors.”

He added, “We also know that the Democrats are hell-bent on federalizing elections. And this bill takes a significant step down that road of putting the federal government in charge of elections. That has been a top Democrat priority for some time. … What this bill does is decreases the ability of Congress to address instances of fraud when it occurs, and I believe Congress has a responsibility to do that.”

Cruz was the only member of the Senate Rules Committee who voted against the bill Tuesday.

Sen. Rob Portman believes the bill has a strong likelihood of making it through the Senate at large precisely because of McConnell’s endorsement.

“Mitch’s endorsement of the final bill that came out of the Rules Committee was very important. If he had not supported it, it would have been tough for us to get a large vote,” he told The Hill.

Meanwhile, Sen. Josh Hawley has reportedly said he’s “really reluctant” to back the bill, and Sens. Tommy Tuberville, Roger Marshall, and John Kennedy are still undecided.

What’s notable is that all of the dissidents, including Cruz, are tied to former President Trump in one way or another.

This is relevant because the changes proposed by the Electoral Count Act “are a direct response to Trump’s attempts to subvert the election results and the violence that came with it on Jan. 6, 2021,” according to The Washington Post.

In other words, the Electoral Count Act is designed to prevent another Jan. 6th incident, as Cheney has explained on several occasions.

“This bill is a very important and crucial bill to ensure that what happened on January 6th never happens again,” Cheney said in floor remarks made last week.

Meaning support or disapproval for the bill is linked to Trump loyalty.

“For Republicans, support for the bill is one way to deal with Trump’s actions, and the possibility a similar attempt could be made again, without having to confront the former president head on, which many are reluctant to do. But it is becoming another litmus test of loyalty to Trump less than six weeks ahead of a midterm election and barely two years from the 2024 presidential election,” the Post explains.

Trump has, for his part, not yet published any Truth Social posts about the Electoral Count Act. But now that McConnell has come out in support of it, a post is likely incoming.


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Vivek Saxena


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