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Lawmakers reached an agreement to include in must-pass legislation a measure aimed at making it harder to overturn a certified presidential election, marking the first legislative response to the US Capitol insurrection and then-President Donald Trump’s relentless pressure campaign to stay in power despite his 2020 loss.

Several congressional sources told CNN that the legislation – to overhaul the 1887 Electoral Count Act – will be added to a bill to fund the federal government before Friday’s deadline to avoid a shutdown. If it becomes law, as is expected, the vice president’s role would be clarified to be completely ceremonial while overseeing the certification of the electoral result. It also would raise the threshold in Congress to make it harder for lawmakers to force votes attempting to overturn a state’s certified result and prevent efforts to pass along fake electors to Congress. The House select committee investigating the US Capitol attack on January 6, 2021, called for the bill’s passage in a summary of its report released Monday.

The bill is a result of intense bipartisan negotiations over several months that won over the support of top Republicans, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, but has drawn pushback from House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. With Republicans set to take control of the House within days, lawmakers pressed to send the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk knowing its fate is likely doomed in the next Congress.

One part of the legislation is focused on modernizing and overhauling the Electoral Count Act, an 1887 law that Trump had sought to exploit and create confusion over how Congress counts Electoral College votes from each state. As part of that proposal, senators are attempting to clarify that the vice president only has a ceremonial role in overseeing the certification of the electoral results.

The bill includes a number of changes aimed at making sure that Congress can clearly “identify a single, conclusive slate of electors from each state,” the fact sheet says.

This comes as revelations surfaced about an effort by Trump allies to subvert the Electoral College process and install fake GOP electors in seven key states.

The legislation creates a set of stipulations designed to make it harder for there to be any confusion over the accurate electors. For example, it states that each state’s governor would be responsible for submission of a certificate that identifies electors. Congress would not be able to accept a slate of electors submitted by any other official. “This reform would address the potential for multiple state officials to send Congress competing slates,” the fact sheet states.

While constitutional experts say the vice president currently can’t disregard a state-certified electoral result, Trump pushed then-Vice President Mike Pence to obstruct the Electoral College certification in Congress as part of his pressure campaign. But Pence refused to do so and, as a result, became a target of the former President and his mob of supporters who stormed the Capitol on January 6.

The proposal “raises the threshold to lodge an objection to electors to at least one-fifth of the duly chosen and sworn members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.” Currently, only one member of each body is required to make an objection.

Final legislative text of the sweeping government funding bill has not yet been formally unveiled but is expected to be released imminently as lawmakers race the clock to avert a shutdown at the end of the week.

The expectation on Capitol Hill is that Congress will be able to avoid a shutdown, but pressure is on for lawmakers as congressional leaders have little room for error given the tight timeline they are facing. Government funding is currently set to expire on Friday at midnight.


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