Sahil Kapur for NBC News:
As the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 plot prepares to kick off its first public hearing, a bipartisan group of senators huddled Wednesday in the Capitol to negotiate new laws to prevent future candidates from stealing elections.
Two sources familiar with the group’s work said it is close to a deal, having settled on a series of new provisions and working through options on one major unresolved issue.
“We’ve made a lot of major decisions,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a leader of the group, said in an interview before the meeting. “We’ve resolved a lot of issues, but we have some more work to do, which I hope we’ll finish up this week.”
The areas of consensus, Collins said, include amending the Electoral Count Act to restrain the vice president’s role, raising the congressional threshold for objecting to electoral votes, overhauling the transition process and protecting election officials from threats.
The group is trying to close loopholes in the electoral system in a flurry of activity among members and staffers in recent weeks to reach consensus on a cause that lawmakers in both parties see as urgent. It was the first face-to-face meeting of members since April. The negotiations were sparked in part by President Donald Trump’s unsuccessful effort to exploit gaps in the law to stay in power even though he lost the 2020 election.
The senators haven’t reached a final agreement, and success would mean avoiding a number of potential political pitfalls. In addition, any bill would require at least 60 votes to break a filibuster and pass the Senate.