What Happened in the U.S. Senate Committee Markup on Electoral Count Act Reform
On Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 4 p.m. ET, the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration held a markup on S. 4573, the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act. During the markup, the senators voted to adopt an amendment offered by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and voted to report the bill to the Senate floor. Watch the hearing here and find the live play-by-play below.
Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022
Last updated: 4:44 p.m.
- Blunt thanks the bipartisan group for its work and Klobuchar adjourned the meeting.
- Klobuchar thanks the committee staff for working on the bill.
- The committee votes 14-1 to report the bill to the Senate floor. Only Cruz voted against.
- The committee is voting to report S. 4573 as amended to the Senate floor.
- The committee votes to adopt the manager’s amendment.
- The committee is voting on the manager’s amendment.
- Padilla: “May this step, an important step, be just a first step to further protecting the voices of millions of Americans.”
- Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), former California secretary of state, explains his support for the bill. “The Electoral Count Act reform is critical to ensuring…the peaceful transfer of power that’s so fundamental to our democracy.” Padilla also urged other senators to consider more reforms to the election system. “Too many Americans still experience unnecessary obstacles to exercising the right to vote.“
- Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) speaks in support of the bill and the manager’s amendment. “The bill is carefully and narrowly crafted.”
- Klobuchar, responding to Cruz: “The 1876 election is not my favorite precedent because I wouldn’t be allowed to vote.”
- King then withdraws the amendments, reserving the right to bring them forward during a future consideration of the bill.
- King proposes two amendments. His first amendment would define what it means for an Electoral College vote to be “regularly given,” a term the law currently doesn’t define. The second amendment would add “assigned on a random basis” to the section on judicial review to ensure judges are randomly selected.
- Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) rebuts some of Cruz’s arguments. “This bill does not come out of the blue, in fact it’s a modification of a 150 year old law that’s already been on the books. It’s not a new effort of Congress.”
- Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks out against the bill, echoing his complaints from the committee’s hearing in August. “This bill is a bad bill…This bill is all about Donald J. Trump.” He argues that the bill federalizes elections and spent a large portion of his remarks complaining about provisions of the Democrats’ federal voting rights bills even though they are no longer under active consideration by Congress. He also echoed conspiracy theories that fraud is rampant in American elections and criticized his Republican colleagues for supporting the bills.
- Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) praises the bipartisan group, but also points out two outstanding issues. “We need some kind of de minimis cybersecurity standard for our voting machines.” He also expressed support for measures to make sure “the [U.S.] Postal Service in the weeks and months before an election doesn’t put a thumb on the scale.”
- Klobuchar introduces the manager’s amendment to the committee and explains the changes it makes to the legislation. “The manager’s amendment is truly bipartisan. Senator Blunt and I jointly drafted and filed and all changes in it are supported by Sens. Collins and Manchin and other members of the group.”
- McConnell: “The legislation before us with this text in this form, is Congress one option to get an outcome and in my view, this is not an opportunity we should pass up.”
- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaks in support of the legislation as introduced. However, in his remarks he does not miss the opportunity to criticize other Democratic proposals to protect the right to vote, and stresses he would only support the bill as introduced by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) with only minor, technical changes.
- Blunt: “Chairwoman Klobuchar and I’ve worked with Senator Collins and Manchin as well as the rest of the bipartisan group to draft a manager’s amendment to address some issues raised…and they further strengthen the bill.”
- Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, gives his opening statement.
- Klobuchar: “This bill explicitly rejects once and for all the false claims that the Vice President has authority to accept or reject electoral votes and makes it clear that the Vice President role during the joint session is ceremonial. Second, it raises the threshold to challenge the electoral votes during the joint session…to 1/5 of Congress. Third, it ensures a partisan state legislature cannot appoint electors themselves and ignore the will of the voters. Fourth, it takes reforms to ensure the candidate can have an appeal process. It includes vital reforms that guard against future threats to our democracy.”
- Klobuchar: “The Electoral Count Act was largely overlooked for over one hundred years, but it was at the center of a plan to overturn the 2020 election and the will of the American people that as we all know who work here culminated in a violent mob, desecrating the Capitol.”
- Sen. Klobuchar, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, begins the markup.