WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) voted against a bipartisan bill Tuesday aimed at preventing another insurrection like the one on Jan. 6, 2021.
Cruz played a prominent role that day, leading a faction of Senate Republicans who opposed the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, reinforcing then-President Donald Trump’s lies about the voter fraud and siding with a violent mob of Trump supporters who stormed the US Capitol.
The Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday approved a bipartisan bill, by a 14-1 vote, that would make it harder for Cruz to raise another objection to the 2025 presidential election. Cruz was the only member of the committee to voted against the bill.
“The main reason why this bill is problematic is that it seeks to reduce the ability of the United States Congress to address the very real problem of voter fraud,” Cruz said.
Cruz was careful not to say directly that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election by fraud, because that would be an obvious lie. Dozens of courts, as well as senior Trump campaign and administration officials, have ruled the election was not rigged, contrary to the former president’s false claims.
Instead, Cruz railed against a straw man: the idea that there is no voter fraud at all, as in not a single instance of an ineligible voter accidentally voting or deliberately voting twice.
In 2020, Cruz claimed, “Democrats have started clenching their pearls and insisting that there is no voter fraud, it never happened, and anyone who says it is happening is wearing a tinfoil hat and is a conspiracy theorist.”
An Associated Press investigation published in 2021 revealed several hundred potentially fraudulent votes in 2020, almost all perpetrated by people acting alone and not as part of a conspiracy to rig the election. The sum total of their individual efforts is far from having affected the election outcome in a single state.
“It doesn’t eliminate the ability of Congress to review any aspect of the election; it just says one or two people can’t do it.
– Senator Angus King (I-Maine)
Democrats don’t deny that such picayune voter fraud exists, but Cruz has claimed otherwise. And he hinted that maybe the Democrats do use fraud to launch elections.
“Democrats today have made, I think, a really cynical political decision that voter fraud, they say, helps elect more Democrats, and so the more fraud the better,” Cruz said. “What this bill does is diminish the ability of Congress to deal with cases of fraud when they occur.”
One of the key provisions of the bill would require one-fifth of House and Senate lawmakers to oppose a state’s election result. When Cruz raised his objection on January 6, 2021, he only needed himself and a member of the House. The effort failed to change the outcome, but it gave Trump an opportunity for his attempted insurrection.
Cruz said the Electoral Count Act of 1887, the law that created the procedures for Congress to certify a presidential election, was carefully drafted following the contentious presidential election of 1876. But the bill would simply amend this law, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said in response to Cruz. Another key provision would simply state that the vice president has a ceremonial role in vote counting procedures; Trump had wanted Mike Pence to somehow reject the 2020 result.
“This is not another effort by Congress to interfere in the electoral process; it is simply intended to clarify a law that virtually everyone who has discussed for the past 25 years has agreed is archaic and confusing,” King said. “It doesn’t eliminate the ability of Congress to review any aspect of the election; it just says one or two people can’t do it.
Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) suggested that the election standards of the late 1880s might not be the best model for today.
“It’s not my favorite precedent because I wouldn’t even have been allowed to vote,” Klobuchar said.
Proponents of the bill said it would get a full Senate vote before the end of the year.