/  Ranking Member Cole Hearing Remarks on H.R. 8873

Ranking Member Cole Hearing Remarks on H.R. 8873

As delivered during today's hearing:

Today’s hearing covers a single item, H.R. 8873, the Presidential Election Reform Act.  This is the Majority’s proposal to reform the Electoral Count Act, which governs our joint session to count electoral votes for President and Vice President of the United States.

After the attack on the Capitol Building last January, there is bipartisan consensus that reforms to the Electoral Count Act are desirable. Commonsense reforms, like an acknowledgement that the vice president’s role is ministerial in nature, could be the subject of bipartisan agreement.   

Unfortunately, today’s bill goes significantly beyond those kinds of consensus reforms that could be the subject of a bipartisan bill. Indeed, today’s bill represents yet another attempt by the Majority to federalize elections at the expense of states, which traditionally have control of their own election administration. Again, and again, and again this Congress, the Majority has been pushing this same sort of solution, whether as part of H.R. 1, the Majority’s wholesale federalization of elections; or H.R. 8, the Majority’s partisan reforms to the Voting Rights Act; or today’s bill. 

To make matters worse, there has been no process with this bill and no attempt at regular order. Indeed, the Majority noticed this hearing without text even being available, and we only received text 24 hours ago. The committees of jurisdiction have held no markup on this bill, and no Member of Congress has been able to offer any amendments. Once again, this House is being asked to take or leave a bill written behind closed doors. 

Mr. Chairman, given all of the Majority’s righteous and high-minded talk over the last two years about how democracy itself is in peril, don’t you think we would be better served to have operated through regular order, with real, member buy-in, on a topic that is as important to the American people as this one?

If you wanted to actually put forward real, bipartisan reforms to actually protect the democratic process, shouldn’t this bill have gone through regular order? Shouldn’t the committees of jurisdiction have held markups? Shouldn’t all members have had the opportunity to provide input and have their ideas considered? Don’t we owe the American people that?

Instead, we are getting what we have always gotten from this Majority: this is another partisan bill designed to fit a political narrative. Today’s bill will, I suspect, meet the same fate as all of the other closed bills the Majority has put forward this year: going nowhere, and going there fast. 

Mr. Chairman, I have said this again and again and again this Congress: at some point, the Majority must decide whether they are here to make political points or if they are here to make law.

With today’s bill, they are once again telling the American people what really matters to this Majority: making political points to distract from their failures to govern. And that is a real shame, Mr. Chairman. This is a missed opportunity. It is the American people who will suffer the most from that mindset.

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Created: September 20, 2022