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December 21, 2022

Senator King Urges Passage of “Most Important” Bill this Congress: Protections for the Peaceful Transfer of Power

Watch Senator King’s full floor speech HERE.

WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight over federal elections, gave a speech on the Senate floor to highlight what he considers the most important bill under Senate consideration: the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act which provides democratic protections for the peaceful transfer of power. During his speech, King explained why his top priority for the remainder of this Congress is this bill and why it is needed to clarify the ambiguous 19th century law that spurred the January 6th insurrection.

Senator King underscored that while other policies are important, all of them are negligible without serious protections for our democratic system.

“The bill that we have before us now is, I believe, one of the most important pieces of legislation in this Congress. Because it deals with the structure of democracy itself. All of our policy issues, whether it's the Defense Department, Ukraine, all of the policy issues, health care, all of those things are critically important, but the infrastructure that underlies the system is even more important. We can't do good policy if we don't have a solid underpinning of a structure of our democracy,” Senator King said.

Senator King also highlighted the bipartisan nature of the bill and of the desire for electoral protections.

“And that's why the bill that is now part of the budget bill, the omnibus bill, is so important. The bill is bipartisan. I think that's critically important. I sat in the Rules Committee. It passed 14-1. Supported by Leader McConnell, supported by Leader Schumer. 14-1. I rarely see votes like that in that committee,” Senator King continued, “But because there was universal realization that we needed to do something about this, we had a hearing on it and I remember Senator Blunt speaking at the end of that hearing and saying this is something we need to take care of before the end of this Congress. And that was a very important announcement and it led us to this moment.”

The Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act includes many provisions proposed by Senator King in an initial discussion draft for reform released in February. The legislation updates the outdated and vague 1887 Electoral Count Act to ensure that electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect the will of the voters in each state. The bill replaces ambiguous provisions with clear procedures to ensure the counting of electoral votes can’t be exploited. Key provisions in the bill include:

Clarifying the Role of the Vice President.

  • Affirmatively states that the constitutional role of the Vice President in the counting of electoral votes is ceremonial, with no power to adjudicate conflicts that might arise.

Raising the Objection Threshold.

  • Raises the threshold to object to a state’s electors to at least one-fifth of the duly chosen and sworn members of both the House of Representatives and the Senate – up from one member of each chamber.

Ensuring a Single, Accurate Slate of Electors.

  • Designates each state’s governor as responsible for submitting a single slate of electors to Congress.
  • Ensures a state’s executive can’t submit a slate of electors over the objections of the judiciary or in violation of state and federal law.

Expediting Judicial Review.

  • Provides an expedited review process, including a three-judge panel with appeal to the Supreme Court, of certain claims related to a state’s slate of electors.

Preventing Moving or Canceling of Elections.

  • Requires “extraordinary and catastrophic” events for a state to move their election, and removes a provision that allows states to declare failed elections.

Senator King has been a leader on reforming the Electoral Count Act (ECA) of 1887, and in February, released a discussion draft with Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to inform Senate-wide efforts to update the law reflecting 21st century threats. In a hearing of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, King questioned election experts on ECA reform proposals and what provisions must be in any final bill to effectively protect America’s electoral process. This September, the legislation passed the Rules Committee in a 14-1 bipartisan vote.

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