Calms: Congress tries to prevent its own members from another coup attempt

Call it the Republican (senseless) lament: “The things we do for the orange Jesus.

Those are the words whispered by a House Republican on Jan. 6, 2021, according to Rep. Liz Cheney, as he joined fellow Trump toadies in a party locker room to sign formal objections to Joe Biden’s electoral votes. key states. These objections were exactly what then-President Trump and a growing crowd outside the Capitol were asking for.

Cheney looked at his colleague and thought, “You know, you’re taking an act that’s unconstitutional. She recounted the episode on Monday before an audience at the center-right American Enterprise Institute celebrating, fittingly, Constitution Day.

The Congressional MAGAmatons are still there, of course, blindly following Trump’s wishes even as their orange Jesus lament speaks to the disdain so many have for the underdog of 2020.

Opinion columnist

Jackie Calms

Jackie Calmes takes a critical look at the national political scene. She has decades of experience covering the White House and Congress.

On Wednesday — nearly two years after acquiescing or even colluding in Trump’s coup attempt and then fleeing — nearly all House Republicans voted against a bill intended to block a another such insurgency after the 2024 elections.

The measurement past, 229 to 203in the Democratic-controlled House with the support of just nine Republicans, including Cheney – all lame ducks, their congressional careers ended in party primary defeats or decisions to retire in the face of the wrath of the MAGA voters face their inability to fully bow down to Trump.

This bill is a BFD, as Vice President Biden so aptly put it other historical laws.

He would change the 135-year-old Voter Count Act, which Trump plotters have misinterpreted in an effort to let Congress undo Biden’s victory. The changes would clarify what had been understood for more than a century, until Trump: a vice president (e.g., Mike Pence on January 6, 2021) simply presides over Congressional certification of state electoral votes; he or she has no authority under the law or the 12th Amendment to change those votes.

In addition, the House bill would increase the threshold number of lawmakers who must object to a state’s votes before Congress considers the issue — from just one member of the House and Senate to one. third of each room. The bill would limit the grounds for objection. And a majority of the House and Senate would have to approve the objections.

Barely two weeks ago, the former federal judge J. Michael Luttiga prominent conservative advising members of the House and Senate on the issue, had all but given up on bipartisan negotiations to correct the 1887 law. Then on Monday, Cheney and Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren of San Jose, both members of the select committee of the House investigating on January 6, 2021, introduced their bill.

It is extremely rare for a non-urgent bill to be introduced in the House one day and passed two days later. However, as Luttig puts it, the need to modify the law on the electoral count is an emergency situation. Trump and his allies remain “a clear and present danger,” Luttig told me. They will “again seek to overturn an election that is not going their way.”

Cheney and Lofgren agree. They wrote this week in a Wall Street Journal editorial that the continued lies by Trump and his supporters — including Republican candidates for Congress and state and local election offices — raise “the prospect of another effort to steal a presidential election, perhaps with a another attempt to corrupt Congressional procedure for counting electoral votes.”

News of their bill suddenly passing the House and the brightening prospects of a Senate version received little attention. After all, it’s hard to drill amid the latest bombshells about one alleged Trump transgression or another – financial fraud in New York real estate, the apparent theft of state secrets in Mar-a-Lago and his registered donor tampering with voting materials after the 2020 elections.

On Thursday, the sponsors of the separate Senate bill amending the Voter Count Act got their 10th Republican Co-Sponsor: Pennsylvania Senator Patrick J. Toomey, who is retiring. With all 50 Democratic senators backing the legislation, there are now the 60 votes needed to avoid a Republican filibuster and pass the bill.

Even so, senators and members of the House must reconcile the differences in their respective bills. The Senate version is less stringent, with looser grounds for objection to state electoral votes and fewer objectors required — one-fifth from each chamber instead of one-third. The goal is to negotiate the final language in time for a vote in the lame session of Congress after midterm elections in November.

“It would be an inexplicable and inexcusable disappointment to the country if Congress did not pass” some version of what is on the table, Luttig said – to “ensure that there is never another January 6 “.

In these polarized times, there was a good moment after the House vote when Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) descended from the dais and walked through the chamber shaft to where Cheney, now an outcast in his own party, had chatted with Lofgren and several other Democrats. Liberal Pelosi warmly shook hands with very conservative Cheney.

Unfortunately, even assuming a happy ending for a revised voter count law, that is not the conclusion of this legislative saga. Instead, what stands out is that Congress could not achieve unanimity in both houses on its attempts to rewrite a poorly drafted 19th century law that was at the center of a bloody attack on lawmakers’ own hallways and, potentially, their lives.

As Luttig told me, “The Republican Party to this day will not go against Trump.”

That its members are so blinded by orange should make us see red.


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