Although their attempt to drastically rewrite U.S. electoral law was unsuccessful in a high-stakes Senate showdown on Wednesday night, Democrats maintained that their brinkmanship made it possible and forced Republicans to yield, even if only a little, to engage in bipartisan negotiations.
The Electoral Count Act (1887 law) is the focus of the new push. This 1887 law created the complicated process for the certification by Congress of presidential election results. Since the law's incompatibilities were considered an afterthought for more than 100 years. Trump's persistent, false claims of voter fraud costing him the 2020 election led to a mob storming the Capitol.
A revision of the Gilded Age statute may be Democrats' best chance to address Trump's "big lie” about a stolen election. However, with only serious talks beginning in the Senate and little time before the midterm elections this year, it could be difficult to reach consensus.
"We know history favors voting rights and we know that forcing leaders into a position will eventually move the ball forward," said Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader.
Many Democrats insisted that the Electoral Count Act update was not a substitute for their voting legislation, just weeks ago. They pointed out that updating the 1887 law would not counter the Trump-inspired push to make voting more difficult in 19 states.
While they still hold this position, after the defeat of their marquee election bill, they have no other options. Trump loyalists continue to prepare for the next election by working to elect sympathetic leaders and backing candidates who were involved in the riot at U.S. Capitol.
Biden acknowledged this week that the Democrats may have the best chance to pass an update of the electoral bill through a 50-50 Senate. This is where much of his agenda has been stalled.
Biden stated Wednesday that he predicted to reporters that they would get something done.
Any legislation must balance the Democrats' desire to stop what they see as a GOP plan that makes it harder for Black Americans to vote and the Republican's ingrained opposition to greater federal oversight of local elections.
Jim Clyburn, the No. 1 South Carolina Representative, said that "What other items could be put there?" 3 House Democrat, and a senior member the Congressional Black Caucus. "I want to do more than counting votes for the president. I want to make sure we count all votes. "Voter nullification, like what they do in Georgia, can be addressed.
Republicans who participated in the update of the Electoral Count Act admit that it would be more effective if the bill had a wider focus.
Senator Susan Collins from Maine is currently holding bipartisan talks. Roger Wicker from Mississippi, Thom Tillis in North Carolina, and Mitt Romney (Utah), as well as Democratic Senators. Joe Manchin from West Virginia, Jeanne Shaheen from New Hampshire and Kyrsten Silena of Arizona.
Manchin said, "It's so necessary," and added that Democrats should have begun with a narrower scope.
Manchin and Sinema effectively thwarted Democrats' marquee bill Wednesday. Republicans joined them in voting against a rule amendment that would have allowed the party’s voting legislation to be passed with a simple majority.
Collins proposed new protections to poll workers and election workers. Some of these workers received chilling threats of their safety following the 2020 election. She also demanded more funding for local elections. Manchin calls for harsh criminal sanctions for anyone convicted of intimidating or threating poll workers and election workers.
"It's not an easy task, but if people continue to talk, there's a way," Tillis said. He said that tensions over the Democrats' failed vote bill must ease before any serious coalition building can begin. "We will need to get more Republicans on board, because there will be protest votes."
Many Republicans, however, want all legislation to primarily address the Electoral Count Act.
"This is directly connected to Jan. 6," said Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). It needs to be fixed.
Kevin McCarthy, House Republican Leader, called it Thursday "an old piece law, so you could always modernize it."
A proposal is being developed by the bipartisan House Committee that investigated Jan. 6's insurrection.
Trump began to lose steam with his legal appeals and attempts to pressure officials from the states and localities. Instead, he focused on Mike Pence who oversaw the certification of the results in Congress of the Electoral College. Trump spent days trying to convince Pence that the vice-president had the power to disqualify electors from battleground state voters who voted for Biden. However, the Constitution clearly states that the vice presidency's role in the joint session was largely ceremonial.
Separately, he encouraged Republican legislators to use the low threshold to object to the outcome. Even though rioters engaged in violent hand-to-hand fighting with police during their siege of the Capital on Jan. 6, 147 Republican legislators voted later to oppose Biden's victory.
Senator Angus King is a Maine independent senator who caucuses alongside Democrats. He is currently working on a bill to address several critical weaknesses in the Electoral College process.
According to his office's summary, any legislation should clearly state that the vice president is a ceremonial position, limit Congress' participation in the certification process, and reduce the grounds for objecting to the results of a state's election.
The revisions are not opposed by civil rights activists. But they question the value of the effort if Republican-controlled states can still enact voting restrictions.
"It doesn’t matter how your votes are counted if it isn’t possible to cast your vote in person," stated Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), who was also the pastor of the Martin Luther King Jr. church.