Congress still needs to fix the law that made the Jan. 6 riot possible. Mitch McConnell could help

WASHINGTON —

Next weekend, supporters of former President Trump plan to march on Washington in a show of support for the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 and now face federal prosecution.

“We’re going to push back on the phony narrative that there was an insurrection,” one of the organizers explained.

According to the rioters, they invaded Capitol with bear spray and baseball bats to stop an election that they thought was fraudulent.

Trump told Trump this was how the system worked.

“The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” the soon-to-be-ex-president had tweeted.

That was a delusion — or, more likely, a deliberate misreading of the law. Pence wisely ignored the advice of his boss.

But Sens didn’t get stopped. Ted Cruz (R.Texas) & Josh Hawley(R.Mo. ) and 138 House Republicans from trying to block the electoral votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania, two swing states Joe Biden won.

Although the protests were unsuccessful, they set a dangerous precedent.

Although the protests failed, they set a dangerous precedent. The most zealous members of either side may demand that Congress or vice president reject the results.

With one new wrinkle: When the votes are tallied after the 2024 election, the vice president in the chair will presumably be Democrat Kamala Harris.

That’s a scenario that ought to worry Republicans as well as Democrats. Republicans are known to deny having a monopoly over dangerous extremists.

Luckily for both parties, this is one problem Congress actually could solve — or at least greatly diminish. All that’s needed is for the House and Senate to revise their rules for counting electoral votes, most of which come from an 1887 law called the Electoral Count Act.

The statute is confusing and outdated.

It states that Congress must accept electoral votes so long as they are “regularly granted” — but it is unclear what those words mean. Members of Congress may claim they mean almost any thing.

It states that Congress must consider rejecting an electoral vote from a state if at least one senator or one member of the House demand it.

Unfortunately, Trump continues to create confusion over the role and responsibilities of the vice president. His name appears on many ballots being counted.

Last month, a bipartisan panel proposed a list of changes to the 1887 law. These changes would largely clarify what most legal scholars and members of Congress believed the statute meant all along.

The proposed clarifications would clarify the grounds for objecting state electoral votes.

They would raise the threshold for objections higher than just one member from each chamber.

They would clarify what Pence and his predecessors seem to have known: The vice-president doesn’t have the secret power to decide whether or not to allow electoral votes to be counted.

” We have to correct the mistakes [in January], if we want to continue our democratic republic,” stated Zach Wamp, a former Republican Congressman from Tennessee who was involved in the creation of the proposals.

Wamp and Sen. Angus King, the independent from Maine, are trying to recruit cosponsors from both parties for a bill. Wamp said that many Democrats expressed interest in the bill, but that his fellow Republicans are struggling to get cosponsors due to Trump loyalists’ backlash.

He’d like to win support — or at least neutrality — from Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a thoroughgoing institutionalist who clearly agrees with the intent of the proposed reforms.

“This legislation is right up his alley,” Wamp said.

McConnell stated the same in the wake of Jan. 6 when he gave a memorable, angry speech on the Senate Floor.

“The Constitution gives us here in Congress a limited role. He said that we cannot declare ourselves a national election board on steroids. “It would damage our republic forever.”

Senate-watchers say McConnell’s likely to duck this battle despite those admirable sentiments. Debate over myths that made Jan. 6, possible would only open his party’s self inflicted wounds.

Wamp and other supporters of good government can still dream.

Sen. McConnell – This is your chance to pass a bill to strengthen the Constitution, save your beloved Senate from endless replays Jan. 6, or even save a candidate from trying to undermine his election. You can even make your wise words into law.

How about it?

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