Republicans are pointing the finger at Vice President Kamala Harris bolstering Republican support for the overhaul of a 135-year-old law that many believe helped spark the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the United States Capitol.
They cite Ms Harris as one of the key reasons why the Voter Count Act of 1887 should be rewritten to clarify questions about the vice president’s role in certifying the upcoming White House elections.
“For Republicans, the question is: do you want Kamala Harris to feel like she can decide who the next president is? “That’s something we should be interested in.”
For months, senators have discussed how to rewrite ECA guidelines for counting and certifying Electoral College votes after a presidential election. Democrats and Republicans say the law needs to be updated to remove the ambiguity.
By law, the vice president presides over the Electoral College certification process. Exactly what that means has been widely debated in the aftermath of the hotly contested 2020 election. Former President Donald Trump and his allies have argued that the vice president could reject voters from states with electoral “irregularities.”
Then-Vice President Mike Pence and others took a different view. They said the ECA only allowed the vice president to preside over the count, not rule on his legitimacy. In making this argument, many noted that the CEA stipulates that only electoral college tallies confirmed by governors can be accepted for certification.
“There are so many ambiguities and a law that is almost 150 years old, we need to clarify what precisely the role of the vice president is, to clarify that he is ministerial,” said Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine. at the head of a bipartisan party. push to rework the ECA.
The rewrite of the law was beginning to generate significant bipartisan enthusiasm until Mr. Trump got involved. In a series of statements, Mr. Trump indicated that he opposed the effort and the “RINO Republicans” who supported it.
“If the Vice President (Mike Pence) had ‘absolutely no right’ to alter the results of the presidential election in the Senate, despite fraud and many other irregularities, how come the Democrats and RINO Republicans, like Wacky Susan Collins, are desperately trying to pass legislation that won’t allow the vice president to alter the election results,” Mr. Trump said. “In fact, what they’re saying is that Mike Pence had the right to change the result, and now they want to take it right away.”
Republicans are now eager to support any changes to the law. Many note that Mr. Trump is still the most popular figure in the GOP and the likely frontrunner for the 2024 presidential nomination.
“I think there are political ramifications to doing it now, with the former president coming out with a force and a voice,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia.
Proponents of the ECA rewrite, including Ms Collins, say Mr Trump’s intervention is just one more argument in his favour.
“I think everyone knows this law needs to be clarified, except maybe the former president,” said Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent who caucus with Democrats. “I think his comments only underscore the fact that he needs to be clarified.”
Few Republican lawmakers are willing to agree publicly. Reality has left Republican supporters scrambling for a solution.
Many, like Mr. Romney, say raising the specter of Ms. Harris trying to overthrow the next presidential election could be the answer. They note that Ms. Harris, who has extremely low approval ratings among Republicans, could very well be the Democratic nominee for the White House in 2024 if President Biden, 79, does not run.
“In the current environment, no one wants a defeated presidential candidate to try anything reckless by presiding over the certification of an election he may have just narrowly lost,” said a supporter of the GOP, who requested anonymity while discussing the matter. “With President Biden’s advancing age, that’s a big selling point for other Republicans.”
Whether the argument will hold remains to be seen.
Supporters of the ECA change say this is one of the reasons a pro-Trump mob stormed the capital on January 6 to prevent the certification of the 2020 election. Protesters threatened Mr. Pence for refusing to reject Electoral College votes from states like Pennsylvania and Arizona, where there were multiple irregularities due to mail-in voting.
“Unfortunately he didn’t exercise that power, he could have overturned the election,” Trump said.