WASHINGTON, D.C. – Only one member of Congress representing the Piedmont Triad voted Wednesday to support a bipartisan bill that would ensure a smooth transfer of power from one president to the next, and none of them is saying why they voted as they did.
6th District Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) voted for the “Presidential Election Reform Act,” which was introduced by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-California) in an effort to update and ameliorate many of the processes that were endangered by former President Donald Trump’s allies on Jan. 6, 2001.
The bill passed, 229-203, but only nine Republicans joined the Democrats in supporting the bill. That opposition would include all eight Republicans representing North Carolina.
In the Triad they are 13th District Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance), 5th District Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk), 10th District Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Statesville) – whose districts now include parts of the Triad – and 8th District Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte) and 9th District Rep. Richard Hudson, whose districts next term would include parts of the Triad.
Rep. David Price (D-Durham), whose 4th District next year will include Alamance County and some of Caswell County, supported the bill.
On Monday, when the bill was filed, WGHP sent an email to the communications officer for each of those members of Congress in search of their impressions of the bill. Only Price’s rep responded to seek clarity. No one else even acknowledged receiving the query.
As of Thursday morning, none had followed by issuing a statement about his or her vote or about the bill in general. A review of social media found no immediate comment about the vote, either.
The goal of the bill
The bill seeks to ensure that the process overseen by Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6, when Congress confirms the vote of the Electoral College, would go unimpeded.
Pence had declined requests by Trump and some of his allies that he reject the electors and delay the transfer of power to President Joe Biden, who decisively won in November 2020.
Trump has claimed without evidence that the election results weren’t valid, a claim he still makes to this day despite no supporting evidence.
His supporters then stormed the Capitol in a violent insurrection. That attack ultimately injured hundreds of law enforcement officers and led to seven lives that were lost during or after the insurrection.
Insurrectionists also suggested that Pence should be hanged, but he and members of the House and Senate were ushered out of the building by security officials as the rioters approached their chambers.
More than 850 – including 21 from North Carolina – in 48 states have been charged with crimes during the insurrection, based on a database maintained by USA TODAY. More than 400 have been sentenced, including some 129 to prison terms.
Cheney is the co-chair and Lofgren is a member of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. The committee has established that Trump played a central role in the developments that day, actions for which he was impeached by the House with the support of 10 Republicans, including Cheney.
“Legal challenges are not improper, but Donald Trump’s refusal to abide by the rulings of the courts certainly was,” Cheney said Wednesday. “In our system of government, elections in the states determine who is the president. Our bill does not change that. But this bill will prevent Congress from illegally choosing the president itself.
“This bill is a very important and crucial bill to ensure that what happened on January 6 never happens again.”
What the bill does
Their bill as approved would in summary:
- Affirm the vice president’s role is ceremonial in the electoral certification and affirm the Jan. 6 date and procedure in Congress.
- Specify the formal certification of electors and public inspection.
- Formalizing the process for appealing any elector, including establishing the judicial panel to do so.
- Provide for an extension of the election process based on a catastrophic event (which is specified as “a major natural disaster, a terrorist attack or a widespread power outage.”
- Smooth existing deadlines, dates and processes for delivery of certified electors.
Tillis’ bill in Senate
There is a companion, bipartisan bill in the Senate that was introduced by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and 15 other senators to reform the rules established by Congress in 1887. It is in tandem with the “Enhanced Election Security and Protection Act,” to specify how to ensure that elections are safe.
“From the beginning, our bipartisan group has shared a vision of drafting legislation to fix the flaws of the archaic and ambiguous Electoral Count Act of 1887,” the senators said in a joint statement. “Through numerous meetings and debates among our colleagues as well as conversations with a wide variety of election experts and legal scholars, we have developed legislation that establishes clear guidelines for our system of certifying and counting electoral votes for President and Vice President. We urge our colleagues in both parties to support these simple, commonsense reforms.”
It’s unclear when that bill might be considered or how the House’s bill would affect that.
Among North Carolina’s delegation in the House, Price and his fellow retiring Democrat, G.K. Butterfield in the 1st District, voted for the bill, as did Alma Adams (D-Charlotte) and Deborah Ross (D-Raleigh). Lame duck Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) of the 11 District, 7th District Rep. David Rouzer (R-Wilmington) and 3rd District Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville) voted against it.
In addition to Cheney, Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), another member of the Jan. 6th committee, voted for the bill. So did Republicans Tom Rice, Peter Meijer, Jaime Herrera Beutler, John Katko, Fred Upton, Anthony Gonzalez and Chris Jacobs.
Although North Carolina’s reps remained silent, some of the Republicans who followed Minority Leader Dennis McCarthy (R-California) in rejecting the bill spoke about those objections.
One of them, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), told The Washington Post that the “bill tramples on state sovereignty while the Constitution gives states the authority to make and interpret their own state laws.”