While waiting to hear if the House Ways and Means Committee will vote to release Trump’s taxes — Greg Sargent writes at WaPo that Senate Republicans have quietly been working to Trump-proof the government.
Nobody tell Donald Trump, but Republicans in the Senate appear poised to join Democrats in protecting our democracy from exactly the election subversion he attempted in 2020 — and would surely attempt again in 2024 if given the chance.
The omnibus spending bill has been released, and buried inside it are provisions that would reform the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which governs how Congress counts presidential electors. Trump’s effort to subvert his presidential reelection loss exploited many weaknesses in the ECA that would be fixed if the omnibus passes, as expected.
This was being done with little discussion on right-wing media, or anywhere else. One might almost think the Senate Republicans didn’t want people to know what they were up to. I am not surprised, however. Unlike the rabid and distempered House Republicans, at least some Republican Senators probably want to see Trump out of public life as much as Democrats do.
Just about every main ECA reform in the omnibus responds directly to what Trump did. It would clarify that the vice president’s role in counting electors is ceremonial. (Trump pressured his vice president to halt the count.) It would raise the threshold for Congress to nullify legitimate electors. (Trump got dozens of Republicans to object to Joe Biden’s electors.)
Reform would also combat state-level subversion. Trump pressured GOP state legislators to appoint sham electors for himself, so reform would essentially require governors to certify electors in keeping with state popular vote outcomes. It would create new avenues to legally challenge fraudulent electors and require Congress to count electors that are validated by the courts.
Burying the vote reform provisions in the omnibus spending bill gives the Republicans a way to hobble Trump without confronting him or going on the record on a stand-alone vote.
In a key tell, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) argued in the Louisville Courier Journal this week that reform would disarm the secret liberal plot to dismantle the electoral college, which would be easier to do (he claimed) if liberals can show the electoral count is prone to exploitation.
Whatever works. And lest we forget —
No one should confuse this with a full-scale outbreak of pro-democracy sentiment among Republicans. Most resolutely support making voting harder, and many are actively working to sabotage a full national reckoning with Trump’s insurrection and widespread GOP support for it.
Also, at The Hill —
Senate Republicans are stepping out of the way of the House Jan. 6 committee’s recommendation that the Justice Department prosecute former President Trump for crimes related to the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
GOP senators, especially those allied with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), say the Jan. 6 committee interviewed “credible” witnesses and added to the historical record in a substantial way, even though they have qualms about how Democrats have tried to use the panel’s findings to score political points.
This will probably be the last legislation passed by the current Congress. The House already passed its version of ECA reform in September. All Democrats and nine Republicans voted in favor of it.