House passes election reform bill to curb future interference; 9 Republicans join Democrats

(WASHINGTON) — The House on Wednesday approved a post-Jan. 6 election reform bill intended to blunt future challenges to presidential elections.

The Presidential Election Reform Act, crafted largely by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., passed by a 229-203 vote, with nine Republicans joining the Democratic majority in favor of it.

The legislation would alter the 135-year-old Electoral Count Act, which — as the House committee investigating Jan. 6 showed through a series of hearings — former President Donald Trump and his allies focused on in their efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 race Trump lost to Joe Biden.

Among other things, the new bill would confirm that the vice president’s role in overseeing the Electoral College count after each election is purely ministerial. The legislation would also raise the threshold needed for electoral objections by lawmakers to receive a vote in Congress and it would mandate that governors transmit state results to Congress.

As the Jan. 6 committee detailed, Trump and his allies pressed then-Vice President Mike Pence to not green-light the electors submitted from certain swing states and pushed governors to send to Congress alternate slates of electors who backed Trump over Biden.

Objections to some states’ electors on Jan. 6, 2021, also easily earned votes under the current standards, which only require one member each in the House and the Senate to back an objection. The new legislation raises that floor to one-third of each chamber.

Prior to Wednesday’s vote on the Presidential Election Reform Act, supporters emphasized the need for the legislation as numerous election deniers, including those running for office this year, still say the 2020 race shouldn’t have been certified, citing groundless claims of voter fraud.

“Let me be clear. This is a kitchen table issue for families, and we must make sure this anti-democratic plot cannot succeed,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on the House floor. “It’s a kitchen table issue because denying the American people their fundamental freedom to choose their own leaders denies them their voice in the policies we pursue, and those policies can make tremendous difference in their everyday lives.”

“Our bill will preserve the rule of law for all future presidential elections by ensuring that self-interested politicians cannot steal from the people the guarantee that our government derives its power from the consent of the governed,” Cheney added in her own remarks.

The bill was not anticipated to garner significant Republican support in the House, though, outside of anti-Trump lawmakers.

The nine Republican votes came from Cheney and Reps. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Peter Meijer Michigan, Tom Rice of South Carolina, Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, John Katko of New York, Fred Upton Michigan and New York’s Chris Jacobs. None of them are returning next Congress, either because they are retiring or lost their primaries this year.

House GOP leadership had actively whipped against the bill, with Minority Whip Steve Scalise’s, R-La., saying in a memo Tuesday that “In their continued fixation to inject the Federal government into elections, this legislation runs counter to reforms necessary to strengthen the integrity of our elections.”

The House bill is also competing with Senate legislation crafted after bipartisan talks that included Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, and Susan Collins, R-Maine.

The two bills are similar, though the Senate legislation sets a lower threshold to introduce objections to the electoral count.

ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel contributed to this report.

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