House GOP leaders want their members to vote against election reform bill, claiming it's ineffective

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(WASHINGTON) — House GOP leadership said Tuesday that it is formally whipping Republican members to vote against a bipartisan bill that seeks to reform the counting of presidential electoral votes in order to blunt challenges to the results of a White House race.

A spokesperson for House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., confirmed to ABC News that party leaders will press fellow Republicans to oppose the bill. Earlier Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters there would be a Wednesday vote on the bill, which was crafted by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Liz Cheney, R-Wyo, two leading members of the House committee investigating Jan. 6.

“In their continued fixation to inject the Federal government into elections, this legislation runs counter to reforms necessary to strengthen the integrity of our elections,” Scalise’s office said in guidance explaining why leadership wants Republicans to vote “no.”

Should all Democrats back the bill, it would still pass the House, where the party has a narrow majority.

The bill seeks changes to the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act, which former President Donald Trump and his allies sought to use to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential race, the Jan. 6 committee has said.

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Among other things, the proposed legislation affirms that the vice president’s role in overseeing the Electoral College count after each election is solely ceremonial — a reform in recognition of the intense pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence was under on Jan. 6, 2021, to reject slates of electors for victor Joe Biden. The new bill also requires that one-third of lawmakers from each congressional chamber back an objection to the electoral results before a vote, up from the current threshold that requires any objection to win support from just one House member and one senator to trigger a vote.

The House bill also mandates that governors transmit state results to Congress and bars election officials from not certifying their state’s election results.

Similar legislation was proposed in the Senate after bipartisan talks that included Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and Susan Collins, R-Maine.

The two bills are similar, though the Senate legislation sets a lower threshold to introduce objections to the electoral count.

It’s unclear which proposal will be able to garner more support, but Democrats are insistent that some kind of election bill make it to President Biden’s desk.

“Failure is not an option. We’ve got to put a piece of reform on the president’s desk. We’ve got to protect democracy. That’s what all of us, that’s what the entire Democratic caucus wants. That’s what the Jan. 6 committee members want. That’s our focus,” Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif. and a member of the committee, told reporters Tuesday morning. “But, you know, in the short term, let’s see which chambers pass bills. I think that’s important.”

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