Rep. Greg Pence, R-Indiana, voted against legislation to overhaul the rules for certifying the results of a presidential election as lawmakers accelerate their response to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and Donald Trump’s failed attempt to remain in power.
The bill, which is similar to bipartisan legislation moving through the Senate, would overhaul an arcane 1800s-era statute known as the Electoral Count Act that governs, along with the U.S. Constitution, how states and Congress certify electors and declare presidential election winners, The Associated Press reported.
While that process has long been routine and ceremonial, Trump and a group of his aides and lawyers unsuccessfully tried to exploit loopholes in the law in an attempt to overturn his defeat to Joe Biden in the 2020 election, according to wire reports. Democrats are pushing to pass the bill before the end of the year and ahead of the 2024 election cycle as Trump is considering another run.
While at least 10 GOP senators have signed on to the Senate version, the House vote fell mostly along party lines, according to wire reports. House Republicans — most of whom are still aligned with Trump — argued that the legislation shouldn’t be a priority and that it is a political vehicle for Democrats ahead of November’s midterm elections.
The final vote was 229-203, with nine Republicans joining all Democrats in voting for the bill. None of the nine Republicans who voted with Democrats will return to Congress next year or represent Indiana.
The legislation would set new parameters around the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress that happens every four years after a presidential election, according to the AP. The day turned violent last year after hundreds of Trump’s supporters interrupted the proceedings, broke into the building and threatened the lives of then-Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress. The rioters echoed Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud and wanted Vice President Pence to block Biden’s victory as he presided over the joint session.
The bill would clarify in the law that the vice president’s role presiding over the count is only ceremonial and that he or she cannot change the results, according to wire reports. It also sets out that each state can only send one certified set of electors after Trump’s allies had unsuccessfully tried to put together alternate slates of illegitimate pro-Trump electors in swing states where Biden won.
Rep. Greg Pence, for his part, objected to certifying the 2020 presidential election results in Pennsylvania, a state that Biden carried. The second-term congressman from Columbus also voted to certify election results in Arizona, which also had faced a flurry of Republican objections.
The Pennsylvania objection, however, was defeated 282-138 in the Democrat-controlled House and 92-7 in the Republican-controlled Senate. Neither Trump nor any of the lawmakers who objected to the results have presented credible evidence of widespread fraud that would change the outcome of the election, according to wire reports.
In a statement at the time, Pence said his votes “reflect both my support of the Constitution and the disenfranchised voters of the Sixth District.”
“I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution on behalf of Hoosiers in the Sixth District. The United States is a country of law and order,” Pence said last year in the statement. “There are millions of American voters in our nation who currently feel disenfranchised, but violence and anarchy is never the answer. The way forward for our nation is to follow the U.S. Constitution. My votes reflect both my support of the Constitution and the disenfranchised voters of the Sixth District who feel this election process was intentionally altered for political reasons. This was not what the Founding Fathers intended and it was wrong.”