Lawmakers might actually be protecting themselves from another January 6th – will they?

The good news: Chuck Schumer seems confident that reforms to the Electoral Count Act, the notoriously vague 1887 statute that donald trump and his allies tried to exploit to overturn the 2020 election will make it into the must-pass omnibus legislation lawmakers plan to send to the president’s desk before the Christmas break. The bad news: it’s going to be a thrill. The Senate move, a much-needed safeguard against another collapse on Jan. 6, has yet to be reconciled with a version that has already passed the House, and the whole effort comes dangerously to a standstill.

“The support is there,” the Republican senator said SuzanneCollinsa sponsor of the bipartisan bill in the upper chamber, the bulwark On Wednesday. “So it’s about finding the right vehicle for it – or getting the downtime. Ground time will be hard to come by.”

While there’s good reason to be optimistic that the Electoral Counts Reform Act will eventually be included in the Government Funding Act in the coming days, it’s frustrating that it’s so close: The need for ECA reform has been almost two years after Trump clearly trying to put pressure on Mike Pence to throw away the results of some states, to overturn them Joe Biden‘s 2020 win. But despite significant reform progress in September, lawmakers are scrambling to get it done in the last days of the lame duck. “The clock is ticking towards midnight,” says the ECA expert Matthew Seligmann told the Washington Post‘s Gregory Sargent in this week. “Congress appears poised to pull us back from the brink at a moment when the extreme wing of the GOP house is more poised than ever to create a crisis.”

Senate reform led by Collins and Democrat Joe Manchin, would clarify that the vice president’s role in confirming the presidential election is purely ceremonial. It would also guard against efforts by state officials to submit alternative voters for certification, which Trump allies in states like Wisconsin were planning to do in 2020, and raise the bar for Congress to consider voter objections. It doesn’t go quite as far as a presidential election reform bill passed by the Democratic Parliament Zoe Lofgren and Republicans Liz Cheney, two members of the January 6 committee which is expected to issue criminal reprimands and its final report in the coming days; Representatives last week sent a letter to Senate top colleagues calling for technical changes to ECRA. But it seems likely that the Senate bill will pass given its strong support from both parties, including the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“The chaos that came to a head on January 6 last year certainly underscored the need for an update,” McConnell said in September. “It’s clear the country needs a more predictable path.”

Etc. In January, the House of Representatives will be inundated with election deniers who expanded their caucus in the 2022 midterm elections – despite an otherwise overwhelming performance by the GOP. The Republican House of Representatives is likely to be led by Kevin McCarthywho continues to carry water for Trump and is controlled by far-right politicians Marjorie Taylor Greene and Jim JordanHe is not expected to have much interest in working with the Democrats on anything, least of all reforms necessitated by the attempted coup they helped instigate and, in some cases, openly celebrated. “If Steve Banon and I had organized that, we would have won,” Greene told Young Republicans in New York last week, referring to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. (She later tried to dismiss her comments as “sarcasm.”)

ECA reform alone obviously will not stop Greene and others from promoting dangerous conspiracies and electoral lies, nor would it address other threats to the democratic process that have arisen from Trump’s big lie. But it would prop up a major flaw in the system — if Democrats can get this legislation across the finish line in time, as they expect. “It’s going to be great to do that,” says Schumer said Tuesday. Lawmakers might actually be protecting themselves from another January 6th – will they?

Charles Jones

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