A bipartisan Senate group is moving ahead with talks on reforming the Electoral Count Act despite Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s reluctance, Politico reports.
Schumer, who pushed to pass a sweeping voting rights package that was ultimately filibustered by Republicans, said a standalone bill reforming the Electoral Count Act was “unacceptably insufficient.”
But after the defeat of the voting rights legislation, Schumer is letting the 16-member group move forward.
The Electoral Count Act is a decades-old law governing how Congress handles the certification of electoral results, which former President Donald Trump tried to exploit to block the certification of President Joe Biden’s win.
Schumer is waiting to see if the group can produce a bill that could pass with the 60 votes necessary to defeat a filibuster.
Schumer “interested” in new approach:
“He’s certainly aware that it’s going on. And seemed to be interested in seeing what could be done,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a member of the bipartisan group, told Politico. “This is an avenue that seems like it can garner bipartisan support. And for right now, that’s important to do.”
The group is negotiating changes that would make it harder for senators to object to the certification and to clarify that the vice president cannot unilaterally block the certification.
Democrats previously dismissed the effort but more have come around after Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema rejected changes to the filibuster rule to pass voting rights legislation.
Voting rights out:
Sen. Susan Collins, who is leading the negotiations on the Republican side, said that the bill will be narrow, though it could include new penalties for people who target election officials and poll workers.
But the bill will not include measures from the voting rights package.
“There are some who want to revisit the voting reforms that were not passed. I’m not among those. I would like to do our best to come up with a bipartisan bill that could garner 60 or more votes,” Collins told Politico.
‘We’re going to plow ahead and see if we can come up with a bipartisan bill. I mean, if 16 senators are able to reach consensus, that would be a significant group. The success of the bipartisan infrastructure group is a model for us,” Collins said.