Remarks as delivered during today's Rules Committee hearing:
For the first time since 1887, Congress is looking to update the Electoral Count Act. It would be the first update to the ECA in 135 years, yet the proposal before us is being rushed through in a highly partisan manner.
In fact, your committee announced today’s hearing before we were even allowed to see legislative text. Why rush such a significant piece of legislation when the next presidential certification won’t happen for over 2 years?
It's simple: The midterm elections are just weeks away, and Democrats and the 1/6 Committee are desperately trying to talk about their favorite topic – and that is former President Trump. They aren’t even trying to hide it. My colleagues, Liz Cheney and Chairperson Lofgren – both members of the 1/6 Committee – teased their proposal over the weekend in the Wall Street Journal with an op-ed that was focused primarily on former President Trump.
As someone who voted to certify Joe Biden as President, Kamala Harris as Vice President of the United States, and who recently lost a primary to a candidate who was endorsed by former President Trump, I really don’t care what former President Trump thinks about processes. This isn’t about one man. This is about making sure that this institution upholds a bipartisan approach to something as important as reforming the Electoral Count Act. I believe what House Democrats and the 1/6 Committee are doing is irresponsible and wrong. They have allowed their dislike for President Trump to cloud their judgement and guide their actions – no matter the consequences to this institution or the Constitution that they claim to want to uphold.
The Constitution is clear – States have the primary role in federal elections, with Congress, us, playing a secondary role. Yet some of the provisions in their proposal would trample on state sovereignty and grant Congress unprecedented authority to interpret state laws – opening the door, and I know some of my colleagues in the majority might like this, to mass litigation.
Now, that's not to say we shouldn’t make any updates to the ECA. I think both sides of the aisle agree some clarifications need to be made. I agree! No vice president, no matter who they are should be able to choose who the next president is, but we can address the specific roles of the vice president in Congress in certifying elections. I say that because both sides of the aisle have a history of objecting to election results, including many prominent Democrats.
For example, Hillary Clinton denied the results of the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections and believed there were legitimate questions regarding the integrity of the 2004 presidential election. President Joe Biden has previously claimed that Gore won the 2000 presidential election and agreed that Trump was an "illegitimate president." Vice President Kamala Harris has previously agreed that Trump was an "illegitimate president" and claimed that without voter suppression, Andrew Gillum would have won the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election. Stacey Abrams, a witness in front of our Committee on House Administration at one point, the current Georgia Democratic gubernatorial nominee, has claimed that she won the 2018 election for governor of her state and has, to date, not conceded. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised then-Sen. Barbara Boxer’s objection to the certification of Ohio’s electoral votes in the 2004 presidential election. Representative Bennie Thompson, chairman of both the Homeland Security and Jan. 6 committees, objected to the electoral votes from the state of Ohio for the 2004 presidential election.
Finally, we can’t forget that one of the authors of the bill, House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren, tried to unseat Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks during the 2020 election in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District by permitting the election contest here in the House – despite it being counted, recounted, and certified by a bipartisan board in the state of Iowa.
Despite denial of election results on both sides of the aisle over the years, the ECA has worked. It was put to the test as recently as January 6th, and the House reconvened and certified Joe Biden as President that same night. We did our job. It worked. So, we should not turn making necessary updates to the ECA into a partisan stunt.
The Senate’s bipartisan proposal was also introduced here in the House, so why isn’t that our starting point? And why were there no markups or even consultation with Republicans like me on the committee of jurisdiction, House Administration?
It’s because the proposal before us today is not a serious one; it's a messaging bill meant to make this November about former President Trump because the 1/6 Committee can’t come to an agreement on their purpose or their goal.
I urge everyone on this committee to oppose this bill and instead work in a serious, bipartisan manner to make the electoral count process better – not more political.
And I appreciate the comments when it comes bipartisanship from my colleague, Chairperson Lofgren. But it’s very disappointing to have this bill called bipartisan when we saw Republican law professors booted from the advisory group that was mentioned before in testimony. They also didn’t again start with a true bipartisan package that was negotiated and introduced in the Senate and in the House, and I certainly wish that could have been a place where we could have found some common ground. This process is entirely partisan.
It’s unfortunate I began my service as Ranking Member of the Committee on House Administration with high hopes of bipartisanship in solutions and I end my service in a few months as Ranking Member of this Committee on House Administration in one of the most partisan committees in one of the most partisan institutions in our House in my lifetime.