Electoral Count Act Reform Included in Omnibus Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Early Tuesday, Dec. 20, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees released the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023, the omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government next year. Both chambers must approve the omnibus by Friday to avert a government shutdown. The bill includes S. 4573, a bipartisan group of senators’ proposal to reform the antiquated Electoral Count Act. In September, the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration voted 14-1 to send the bill to the Senate floor.

S.4573, the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, is designed to reform the process by which Congress counts Electoral College votes to avoid a repeat of the events of Jan. 6, 2021. The bill

  • Clarifies that the role of the vice president is purely ceremonial,
  • Raises the threshold for members of Congress to initiate objections to electoral results to one-fifth of each chamber,
  • Ensures there is one conclusive slate of electors from each state
  • And outlines a process for expedited court review of election results.

In September, the Senate Rules Committee additionally amended the bill to

  • Make U.S. Supreme Court review of any federal litigation over the certification of state electors discretionary rather than mandatory,
  • Ensure the judicial review procedure provided in the act doesn’t exclude litigation in other state and federal courts
  • And clarify the language around certification of electors to specify that during the counting of electoral college votes, Congress must treat the electors certified by a state and modified by any state or federal court relief as conclusive.

The House previously approved its own version to reform the Electoral Count Act in September, but the Senate’s version will likely take priority given the tight deadlines to pass a bill before Congress leaves for the year.

Read the S.4573 bill text here.

Read the omnibus bill text here.