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The House may consider legislation as early as next week from Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., to reform the way electoral votes are counted in presidential elections, a bill that’s meant to respond to former President Donald Trump’s challenge of the 2020 election that led to violent protests at the Capitol.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Thursday on the House floor that the bill could get a vote as early as next week. The two lawmakers had not introduced the bill as of Friday afternoon, but it’s been clear for some time that a bill is in the works.
Both Cheney, who lost her primary election in August and won’t return to Congress next year, and Lofgren sit on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. In July, the two lawmakers indicated that legislation to amend the Electoral Count Act of 1887 was on the way.
“The Select Committee has been considering legislative recommendations based on its findings concerning the January 6 attack and will share those soon,” the two lawmakers said. “These will include a bipartisan approach to the Electoral Count Act.”
Lofgren also chairs the Committee on House Administration, and in January, that committee issued a report that made a series of recommendations that could make it into the bill.
One of those recommendations was to make it harder for members of Congress to raise objections to the electoral votes of a given state when it meets in a joint session to count the votes. Under current law, only one lawmaker from the House and one from the Senate is needed to object, and Lofgren’s report recommended that one third of all members of both the House and Senate would be needed to object.
Lofgren’s report also called for language to narrow the role the vice president plays when electoral votes are counted. It said the vice president should not preside over the joint session of Congress, and should have no procedural say in the process. That language reflects complaints from Democrats and some Republicans that former President Trump urged then-Vice President Mike Pence to challenge the electoral count.
The report added that the role of Congress should generally be to accept the electoral results of each state, and substantive problems that arise should be raised and settled by a supermajority vote.
Some of these reforms were included in legislation introduced by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin , D-W.Va., in July. That bill clarified that the role of the vice president is “solely ministerial,” and sought to raise the objection threshold during the joint session of Congress.
This week, a House version of that bill was introduced by Reps. Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J. But Hoyer’s comments on the floor this week indicate that House leaders are waiting for the bill from Cheney and Lofgren.