So far, the Kentucky Republican is keeping a low profile publicly amid tension within his party over how to handle a bill directly aimed at Trump’s push to reverse his 2020 election defeat, as well as lawmakers across the country. GOP who opposed President Joe Biden’s Electoral College. to win. In a brief interview this week, McConnell said Congress “needed to fix” the 1887 law known as the Electoral Count Act. “And I’ll have more to say about my feelings on that later.”
He is likely to reveal his position on Tuesday, when the Rules Committee votes on Senate legislation. McConnell is a member of the panel, alongside the Majority Leader chuck schumer (DN.Y.), which supports the effort.
McConnell’s OK potential for post-January. Bill 6 offers a window into the tense political dynamics that informed his response to the Capitol siege and still dictate his approach to the former president. McConnell excoriated Trump for the attack, calling him “practically and morally responsible”, but voted to acquit him in last year’s Senate impeachment trial.
McConnell also blocked a bipartisan commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6 and largely aligned himself with Trump’s preferences in Senate races. But he avoids criticizing the Jan. 6 House Select Committee, observing last year that “it will be interesting to reveal all of the participants who were involved” in the riot. He does not speak to Trump and avoids speaking publicly about the former president.
Senators involved in changes to the voter certification process say McConnell has kept his distance while advocating to keep the bill as narrow as possible. But he also had a senior aide provide analysis to the group and connect them with at least one constitutional scholar to help them draft the bill, according to Maine Sen. Susan Collinsits main Republican sponsor.
McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyTrump’s likely divergent stances on election law are the latest example of the chasm between the two Republican leaders and their approach to Trump. Lest his position on modernizing the voter count law be forgotten, Trump said Thursday, “REPUBLICAN SENATORS SHOULD VOTE NO!”
“They are in two different places. Mitch is, I don’t mean he’s at the end of his career, but he’s definitely on the wrong side of his career. Kevin comes to the top,” the senator said. Kevin Cramer (RN.D.). “He still has one step to the top, and that is to be Speaker of the House. It’s a pretty fragile journey.
The bipartisan Senate bill already has the support of 11 Republicans, more than enough to break a filibuster. These Republican supporters point out that there are key differences between their proposal and the Internal invoice written by Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), both members of the Jan. 6 selection panel.
Senate Democrats say they would be surprised if McConnell opposes modest changes to the voter count law. Sen. Chris Coon (D-Del.) Said that given McConnell’s “views on the importance of a peaceful transfer of power, and the fact that it is clear that the vice president’s misguided view of powers is dangerously wrong, I think he would support it.”
Some Democrats also argue that McConnell hasn’t done enough to rid the GOP of Trump influence and the corrosive effect of false claims that widespread voter fraud has affected the 2020 election. Critics believe he should have more forcefully opposed Trump’s baseless claims long before his decision to recognize Joe Biden’s victory on Dec. 14, 2020 — weeks after each state certified its vote totals. McConnell said at the time that he wanted to give Trump the space to exhaust his legal challenges.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the bipartisan Electoral Count Act group, asserted that “there is no doubt that Senator McConnell could do much more to purge this kind of insurgent spirit from his party.”
At the same time, the Senate proposal likely wouldn’t have as much momentum as if McConnell opposed it.
“I guess this group wouldn’t have been as productive if Senator McConnell hadn’t supported it,” Murphy said.
The rules committee is due to annotate the bipartisan bill on Tuesday and is expected to make changes after receiving feedback from election law experts in August.
As it stands, the Senate bill would raise the threshold for challenging presidential election results to one-fifth of members in both houses. Currently, it only takes one member of the House and one member of the Senate to challenge the result of an election.
Furthermore, it would clarify that the role of the vice president in charge of overseeing the election count is ministerial; declare that only a governor can submit voter lists to Congress; and create fast-track judicial review to challenge a governor’s certification of voters. The bill also removes the law’s reference to a “failed” election and specifies that ballots must be cast before Election Day, barring a catastrophic event.
The House version includes similar provisions but notably raises the threshold for contesting election results to one-third of members of both houses of Congress. These challenges should also relate to constitutional requirements regarding the eligibility of voters and candidates. Additionally, the House bill defines what would qualify as a “catastrophic” event allowing a state to extend its voting period.
And the message around the versions of the two chambers is different. Lofgren and Cheney have placed Trump at the center of their campaign for the House bill, while Senate Republicans do not explicitly focus on the former president.
Still, the Senate legislation is expected to divide the Republican conference, as are other bipartisan bills in this Congress on infrastructure, gun safety and semiconductor manufacturing. After all, eight sitting GOP senators supported objections to the vote count from at least one state.
The Senate GOP conference has yet to discuss the legislation in detail, but some Republicans have made it clear that it doesn’t matter what McConnell decides.
“It won’t make a difference to me, Mitch has a voice, I have a voice. I want to see what the House passed and hear a vigorous discussion of it,” the senator said. John Kennedy (R-La.), who opposed the Arizona election result on January 6, 2021.
In interviews this week, some Republicans have questioned the need for the legislation, noting that Congress has finally certified the 2020 results. Others argue internally that there are technical challenges when it comes to to address the role of the vice president, according to a Republican senator.
“There will not be unanimity,” said the senator. John Corny (R-Texas), which generally supports the effort. “Everyone knows the challenges that entails.”
Kyle Cheney contributed to this report.