U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, broke from his own party in voting against a bipartisan bill that would bar him from singlehandedly objecting to presidential election results, as he did on Jan. 6, 2021.
The bill, dubbed the Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act, aims to prevent a constitutional crisis like the one that nearly occurred on Jan. 6, 2021. It clarifies procedural ambiguities that former President Donald Trump tried to exploit in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, sponsored the bill, and it has the support of Democrats and Republicans alike. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, came out support on Tuesday, raising the likelihood of passage. But during a Senate Rules Committee vote on the bill, Cruz objected, saying the bill undermines states’ constitutional autonomy in running their elections and therefore opens the door for voter fraud.
“This bill is a bad bill. This bill is bad law. It’s bad policy and it’s bad for democracy,” Cruz said at the meeting.
“I understand why Democrats are supporting this bill,” he continued. “What I don’t understand is why Republicans are supporting it.”
The bill clarifies that the vice president’s role in certifying Electoral College votes is completely ceremonial. It also raises the threshold for objecting to election results from a single member in each chamber to one-fifth of each chamber, essentially making Cruz’s Arizona objection vote meaningless.
It also clarifies the emergency situations that allow a state to extend voting periods, allows courts to force a governor to certify electors and stops state legislatures from creating their own slate of electors.
Cruz was the only Republican on the committee to oppose the bill Tuesday, with 14 other senators on the committee, which includes both parties’ Senate leaders, voting to advance it. The bill now heads to the full Senate, where it will likely meet overwhelming bipartisan support.
Cruz played a key role on the day of the insurrection. Both he and Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri led campaigns to encourage members to object to the certification of the election results. Cruz called for a 10-day emergency audit of the disputed states, which would have been completed before Inauguration Day.
Meanwhile, Trump and his allies were also pressuring Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the Senate, to refuse to certify the results, whipping protesters stationed outside of the Capitol into a frenzy until they ultimately broke through a line of police and stormed into the building.
Even after the attack, Cruz voted against certifying the election results in Arizona, repeating Trump talking points that cast doubt on the state’s results.