The legislation is meant to avoid a situation like on January 6, 2021, when then-President Trump argued that then-Vice President Mike Pence had the power to overrule the electoral college.
McConnell announced his decision in a speech on the floor of the Senate.
“Congress’s process for counting their presidential electors' votes was written 135 [years] ago. The chaos that came to a head on Jan. 6 of last year certainly underscored the need for an update,” McConnell said on the floor. “The Electoral Count Act ultimately produced the right conclusion … but it’s clear the country needs a more predictable path.”
McConnell, at the time, had been sharply critical of the then-president and his actions on January 6. He had been coy, however, about whether he would support the bipartisan legislation.
The support of McConnell indicates that there will not be a filibuster of the legislation, and it is very likely to pass in the Senate.
Collins and Manchin said in a statement last week that their bill is “backed by election law experts and organizations across the ideological spectrum.”
The House last week passed a different bill, the Presidential Election Reform Act, which also had bipartisan sponsorship.
The Senate legislation lays out exactly what the bill would do.
“This bill revises the process of casting and counting electoral votes for presidential elections. The bill also revises provisions related to the presidential transition process,” the text of the legislation says. “The bill specifies that the choice of electors must occur in accordance with the laws of the state enacted prior to election day.”
“Additionally, the bill identifies each state's governor (unless otherwise identified in the laws or constitution of a state in effect on election day) as responsible for submitting the certificate of ascertainment identifying the state's electors. Further, the bill provides for expedited judicial review for any action brought by an aggrieved presidential or vice-presidential candidate arising under the U.S. Constitution or U.S. laws with respect to the issuance or transmission of such a certificate,” the text says. “The bill revises the framework for the joint session of Congress to count electoral votes and make a formal declaration of which candidates have been elected President and Vice President. Among other changes, the bill (1) specifies that the role of the Vice President during the joint session shall be ministerial in nature, and (2) raises the objection threshold in Congress to at least one-fifth of the duly chosen and sworn members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.