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Happy Tuesday morning.
A new cross-chamber power struggle has broken out between the House and the Senate over reforming the Electoral Count Act, with prominent lawmakers backing different versions of the bill ahead of a potential showdown during a lame-duck session.
In the Senate, the process is being driven by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). A bipartisan group of senators has been working for months on changes to the ECA, and they’ve been able to win support from a broad cross-section of colleagues in both parties.
On Monday, Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) dropped their own ECA reform bill. And House Democratic leadership is moving quickly to give it a vote. The bill is expected on the floor as soon as Wednesday.
“It’s not up to us, it’s up to the leadership,” Lofgren told us Monday night on when her bill with Cheney will reach the House floor. “I hope my colleagues on this side of the building see this is not something to fight about, it’s something to come together on.”
There are substantive differences between the two bills. The House bill, for example, defines a “failed election,” while the Senate bill allows states to define a “catastrophic event” such as voter fraud. One of the major differences — the House bill requires that one-third of each chamber must object to certifying a state’s election, while in the Senate proposal, just one-fifth of each chamber is needed to object. Furthermore, the House’s bill prohibits state officials from refusing to certify elections, while the Senate bill is silent on that front.
That each chamber is drafting their own bill isn’t particularly surprising. The Senate, split 50-50 during this entire Congress, has long shown interest in solving some of the root causes of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Manchin and Collins have also worked on several bipartisan initiatives together successfully.
Lofgren and Cheney, for their part, are both key members of the Jan. 6 select committee, which gives them the entree to tackle this issue.
But the dueling bills adds another wrinkle into what is shaping up to be a complicated lame-duck session that will already include some high-profile fights, such as funding the federal government for 2023.
Here are some of the dynamics:
→ Neither side is eager to accept the other chamber’s version: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), whose Rules Committee has jurisdiction over the ECA, said this Monday:
“We’re excited that this is moving along and that the House, they’re going to have a vote. And the bills have some differences. But we had already had some agreements on some of the changes we want to see to our bill.”
“I think the main focus here is that we are proceeding with the Senate bill. We’re happy the House is moving. I’m sure we won’t have agreement on everything.
“I talked to Zoe [Lofgren] at length on Sunday. So there have been discussions but again, it’s healthy in a democracy to have two different versions, and we’re going to be able to work this out.”
Collins was more blunt. The Maine Republican said the Senate bill has “broader support” than the House’s version, drawing approval from “constitutional scholars, election experts and members of the Senate.” Indeed, there are already 10 Republican co-sponsors of the bill Collins has been working on, giving it enough votes to overcome any GOP filibuster.
→ The Cheney dynamic: One issue that came up in conversations Monday is whether Republicans would support a bill that Cheney has been involved in drafting. Of course, this would appear petty to an outsider. But Cheney’s public clashes with former President Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy – both of whom campaigned for her opponent during August’s primary – make it tougher for Republicans in either chamber to get behind the measure, GOP lawmakers and aides told us privately.
Here’s what Team Cheney said about the prospect of her bill losing support because of the Wyoming Republican’s involvement:
“Legislation protecting the legitimacy of presidential elections and ensuring the peaceful transfer of power should be above politics.”
– Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan
TODAY: We’ll be at The Roost and streaming live at 9 a.m. ET for a conversation with Senate Republican Whip Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) about the role of private capital in supporting small businesses, jobs, and the economy. RSVP here to join us!
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WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART
The world waits for Manchin as CR talks continue
At this point, it seems increasingly unlikely that Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) permitting reform plan will make it into the must-pass spending bill.
Government funding expires in 10 days. And neither chamber has introduced – much less started to move – a short-term funding bill as everyone waits on Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s promised permitting reform plan.
In the meantime, opposition is only building to the still unseen Manchin proposal. Progressives in the House and Senate are publicly against the plan. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has even promised to vote against a continuing resolution if the Manchin proposal is attached.
Manchin isn’t getting any help from Republicans either, who would rather see a competing proposal from Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) added to the CR – if anything. GOP senators have a simple line on the CR – “the cleaner the better” – and they don’t think Manchin’s permitting plan goes far enough.
“We understand, based on what we do know, that it’s not very strong,” Senate Minority Whip John Thune told reporters Monday night. “Whether or not this is actually enforceable or whether it would actually get implemented, there’s a ton of skepticism on our side about that.”
As Thune referenced, it’s hard to know exactly what Manchin’s plan would do because the West Virginia Democrat hasn’t released the text. Manchin told reporters on Monday that it was up to Schumer and Senate leaders to release it.
But there are also some hard feelings on the Senate GOP side about Manchin and Schumer secretly negotiating the $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act after it appeared the two had walked away from that effort. Senate Republicans had supported the CHIPS Plus bill in the belief that the Democrats’ reconciliation bill was dead, only to see it later resurrected. Some Republicans, such as Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, called the reversal “unforgivable.”
A clearly frustrated Manchin teed off on the politics surrounding his permitting proposal Monday:
“It’s a shame that basically, the politics is trumping policy that we’ve all wanted for the last 10 or 12 years…
“And that’s what the Republicans have wanted. So what I’ve been fighting for for 10 or 12 years, we got a chance to get it now. They’re mad because of the politics or how the IRA came into play.”
Congressional leaders are eyeing a stopgap bill to fund the federal government through mid-December, with roughly $12 billion dollars in Ukraine aid likely to be included. But time is running out and lawmakers are getting impatient as it remains unclear which chamber will vote on the CR first.
Thune speculated the House would consider the bill later this week, saying the chamber didn’t want to be in next week. But House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer shot that idea down Monday night, telling reporters the House would be here next week to vote.
Here’s Hoyer on which chamber will move first:
“That’s still undecided in that the Senate is still trying to figure out what they can do. You know, we can pass something.”
– Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan
New: Klobuchar unveils two election bills
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is introducing two election-related bills to mark National Voter Registration Day. Both provisions were part of the Freedom to Vote Act, the Democratic package that failed in the Senate earlier this year.
The first measure is the Same Day Voter Registration Act, a bill that would require states to allow “same-day registration” during early voting and on Election Day by 2026. This bill is co-sponsored by 20 of Klobuchar’s Democratic colleagues.
The second measure is the Stop Automatically Voiding Eligible Voters Off Their Enlisted Rolls in States (SAVE VOTERS) Act. This legislation seeks to stop states from kicking voters off voting rolls “unless the state has obtained objective, reliable evidence that a voter is ineligible to vote and establishes notification requirements once a voter is removed.” State election officials would be required to send a notice within 48 hours of removing any voter from the rolls, or “any general program to remove voters.” This measure has 16 Democratic co-sponsors.
“By ensuring states offer same day registration at polling locations and preventing states from unjustly purging voters from voting rolls, these bills will remove barriers that keep people from voting and make sure that every American can participate in our democracy,” Klobuchar, the chair of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, said.
A wide array of good government and government watchdog groups support both of these measures.
But since they have no GOP support, neither of these bills is going to become law.
— Max Cohen
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As energy demand continues to grow, Chevron is working to increase lower carbon energy production in the U.S. to help meet it.
What the Axios team says about writing a lead
Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Roy Schwartz – the founders of Axios – have a new book out today called “Smart Brevity: The Power of Saying More with Less.” Buy it here.
We have a close relationship with Jim, Mike and Roy – we worked with them at Politico, which Jim and Mike founded along with our friend John Harris in 2007. Bres worked with VandeHei at Roll Call and Inside the New Congress beginning in 1994.
In “Smart Brevity,” the trio nods to another one of our mentors, David Rogers. Rogers is a legendary figure for the Capitol Hill press corps. He covered Congress for the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal and Politico. There are far too many great Rogers stories to catalog in this newsletter – Smart Brevity! – but here are a few.
Here’s VandeHei, Allen and Schwartz on how Rogers influenced their style.
– Jake Sherman
→ New: Frontline Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin (Mich.) hails the healthcare reforms enacted in the Inflation Reduction Act in a six-figure ad buy airing in the Lansing, Mich., media market.
Slotkin’s mother couldn’t afford her bills when she was suffering from cancer, Slotkin says in the ad.
“So it was a full circle moment in Congress when we capped the amount that seniors pay for drugs and finally allowed Medicare to negotiate lower prices,” Slotkin says.
It’s a notable example of Democrats in competitive races running on legislative achievements reached during Congress’ busy summer.
→ New: “‘Live Free or Die.’ Words we live by in New Hampshire,” the narrator says to open a DCCC ad. “But Karoline Leavitt would allow our rights and freedoms to be taken away and turned over to politicians.”
Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), who is facing Leavitt in the general election for the competitive seat, used similar messaging to attack the Republican on abortion rights last week.
In another new DCCC ad focusing on abortion rights, the organization takes aim at Rep. Pat Ryan’s (D-N.Y.) opponent for voting “against protecting our right to an abortion.” Ryan is running against Republican State Assemblymember Colin Schmitt in New York’s 18th District.
→ New: The DCCC is slamming Jim Bognet, the Republican challenging Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), as a D.C. lobbyist who pretends to be an “everyday Joe.”
An interesting note: We’re picking up “Succession” theme song vibes from the ad’s soundtrack. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s (D-Nev.) team also used this tactic in an attack ad against Republican Adam Laxalt this cycle.
— Max Cohen
PRESENTED BY CHEVRON
9:15 a.m.: Vice President Kamala Harris will fly to Orangeburg, S.C.
10:15 a.m.: House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries and Vice Chair Pete Aguilar will brief after their closed party meeting.
10:45 a.m.: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik and Reps. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) and Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) will brief after their closed party meeting.
11 a.m.: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) will talk about Puerto Rico. … House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer will hold his pen and pad briefing.
Noon: Karine Jean-Pierre and Jake Sullivan will brief. … Harris and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will meet with students at Claflin University.
1:45 p.m.: President Joe Biden will speak about the DISCLOSE Act.
1:55 p.m.: Harris will speak at South Carolina State University’s convocation.
2 p.m.: Senate leadership will speak after their respective party lunches.
4 p.m.: Biden will leave the White House for Andrews, where he will fly to New York. He will arrive at 5:25 p.m.
7:30 p.m.: Biden will participate in a DNC reception.
→ “Law Enforcement Funding Package Splits Democrats Ahead of Midterm Elections,” by Annie Karni and Stephanie Lai
→ “Videos Show Trump Allies Handling Georgia Voting Equipment,” by Danny Hakim, Richard Fausset and Nick Corasaniti
→ “Trump Was Warned Late Last Year of Potential Legal Peril Over Documents,” by Maggie Haberman
→ “The House’s long-awaited electoral reform bill is ready. Can it pass?” by Marianna Sotomayor and Leigh Ann Caldwell
→ “In Wisconsin, Election Skeptics Deploy as Poll Watchers for Midterms,” by Alexa Corse in Green Bay, Wis.
→ “Britain’s Truss doesn’t expect UK-US trade deal anytime soon,” by Jill Lawless in New York
→ “AJC poll gives Republicans the edge in most races,” by Greg Bluestein
PRESENTED BY CHEVRON
Energy demand is growing. At Chevron, we’re working to help meet it. In the Gulf of Mexico, our Ballymore project can help us meet U.S. demand for oil, while maintaining some of the lowest carbon intensity production within our portfolio. We expect to bring in 75,000 barrels of crude oil per day at a fraction of the carbon intensity of the global industry average. As we strive to produce the energy we can all count on, we recognize the continued importance of lowering our own emissions. Read more about our Ballymore project.
Editorial photos provided by Getty Images
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