“Trump interference exacerbates GOP split on election reforms”


Donald Trump’s attacks on the bipartisan Senate effort to prevent unsubstantiated and solo objections to presidential ballots are accentuating a GOP split over whether the work is even worth pursuing.

The bipartisan group working on reform of the law Trump’s allies used to stoke challenges to his 2020 loss has attracted nine GOP senators, whom the former president has labeled “RINO Republicans.” Despite that number of Republican negotiators, Trump’s comments are deepening the party divide over whether to revisit the Electoral Count Act at all, reflecting long-term fault lines in the GOP over the events of Jan. 6, 2021….

“It’s split. I think there are some political ramifications to doing it now, with the former president coming out forcefully and vocally,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of the bipartisan working group.

Capito predicted that at least 10 Republicans could eventually come on board the final product: “There’s a sweet spot of getting at least 60 people, and maybe more if we keep it narrow and focused and repair what needs to be repaired. It will probably take longer than people think.”

In interviews with a dozen GOP senators over the past week, Cruz (R-Texas) came out most forcefully against the group’s ongoing work to raise the bar for challenging elections in Congress.

“I don’t think a political stunt designed to go after President Trump is a worthwhile expenditure of time and energy,” Cruz said….

It’s not necessarily surprising that two senators who led objections to the certification of the 2020 results would question those who want to hamstring their ability to do so in the future. But it points to a gulf in the party over whether to dive into the Electoral Count Act or stay away from it altogether — and avoid another conflict with Trump….

Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said Trump’s words will have an impact on GOP senators: “Any time he speaks out on an issue, it gets some people’s attention.” But Thune argued the GOP’s reservations also center on trying to move so quickly to a bipartisan bill after Democrats forced a vote on weakening the filibuster in order to pass sweeping election reform.

“I don’t think there’s any particular rush. These guys tried to blow up the Senate two weeks ago. Rewarding them by giving a win on something — especially if they’re going to try and force their agenda into this — is not something that some of our members are crazy about doing right away,” Thune said.

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