Did the Senate just lock down the votes to “Trump-proof” the next election?

Source: Hot Air

I’ll be damned. I didn’t think they had it in ’em.

A bipartisan group of senators led by Susan Collins and Joe Manchin has spent the better part of a year working on reforming the Electoral Count Act. That’s the 19th-century federal law that Trump tried to exploit on January 6, first by convincing Republicans in Congress to object to certifying the results in certain swing states and then by trying to convince Mike Pence to refuse to accept “disputed” electoral votes, which would have sent the election to the House. Or Pence could have accepted pro-Trump electors as the legitimate electors from their state, never mind that no state won by Biden recognized pro-Trump electors as legitimate in any way.

The Senate group, having nearly been murdered the last time a bunch of goons misunderstood the statute, has been working to clarify it so that there’s no ambiguity in 2024. But they’re on a hard deadline that’s fast approaching, as everyone understands that a Republican-led House will never agree to pass ECA reform and thereby deprive Trump of a chance to overturn some future election he loses.

In late July the group announced that it finally had a deal on a package that would be split into two bills. The first bill would contain the guts of the reforms, fixing the ECA to make clear that, among other things, the VP can’t refuse to accept electoral votes and raising the numerical threshold in the House and Senate for members to object to certifying a state’s electoral votes. The second bill would increase penalties for anyone who threatens an election worker. The second bill drew only five Republican co-sponsors, indicating it might not get the 60 votes needed to beat a filibuster. But the first bill drew nine — Collins, Murkowski, Romney, Portman, Sasse, Tillis, Capito, Young, and Graham. Assuming all 50 Democrats also support it, that would leave Schumer at 59. Verrrry close. But no cigar.

According to Politico, they just got the cigar.

It didn’t make news at the time but Grassley told local media in Iowa a month ago that he was inclined to support the legislation:

The legislation would clarify that the vice president’s role in presiding over the counting of electoral votes is purely ceremonial, ensuring that the vice president would not have the power to unilaterally reject or accept electoral votes…

“I don’t know what the… law specifically says on this subject,” he said. “It probably doesn’t say anything, and then people thought well, maybe the vice president has some discretion. He should not have had this discretion ever. And this law will make it clear that he won’t have that discretion.”

Grassley said he also supports a provision that would raise the threshold for objecting to electors in Congress. It would require one-fifth of the House and one-fifth of the Senate to bring an objection, a much higher bar than the current law, which allows one member of the House and one member of the Senate to bring an objection.

“This is going to make those challenges much more legitimate if there’s a reason for having them,” he said.

Grassley has special reason to appreciate ECA reform. During the run-up to January 6, Rudy Giuliani’s legal team evidently began to doubt that Pence would do Trump’s bidding by rejecting the electoral votes from swing states won by Biden. One lawyer who was part of Giuliani’s team proposed having Pence recuse himself due to a conflict of interest since he was, after all, on the ballot in the election being certified. If Pence had done that, the president pro tem of the Senate would presided on January 6 and “would lead the count but refuse to accept any electors in the states Trump was contesting” under the Team Rudy plan. The president pro tem at the time was, of course, Chuck Grassley.

In fact, someone seems to have whispered in Grassley’s ear shortly before January 6 that Pence wouldn’t be attending the certification, which may have been wishful thinking by the source or evidence of more sinister intent. Either way, Grassley came close to stepping into Pence’s shoes and having to decide whether to abet a coup plot or risk having lunatics inside the Capitol trying to hang him. No wonder he’s a fan of reform.

If he’s now the 60th vote for the new bill, it’s a done deal. The Senate will have closed critical loopholes in America’s post-election legal machinery, the single most significant policy effort to prevent a future January 6 that Congress has embarked on.

All they need now is for idiot Democrats in the House not to screw it up by holding the bill hostage in exchange for passage of H.R. 1 or an end to the electoral college or whatever other cockamamie idea figures like Jamie Raskin have. I think Pelosi will take care of business on this, recognizing how disastrous it would be if reform doesn’t pass before McCarthy takes over. But I wonder if she’ll hold out until the lame-duck session to do it, just in case Dems shock the world and end up holding the House. If McCarthy isn’t taking over after all then suddenly there’s no rush to get the bill to Biden’s desk.