Skip to content

House Republicans spotlight elections bill they say will bolster voter confidence

Measure caters to election deniers and would suppress voters of color, Democrats say

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., left, and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., left, and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise joined Administration Committee Republicans on Wednesday to tout a proposal to overhaul D.C. voting laws and, they say, help states improve election integrity.

“This bill that Chairman [Bryan] Steil and all of his committee have brought forward is a really, really important step in the right direction of cleaning up our elections and ensuring that everybody who’s legally eligible to vote gets that vote,” Scalise, R-La., said from the House Triangle, flanked by committee members and several conservative secretaries of state.

The Administration panel, which has jurisdiction over federal elections, on Thursday will mark up the 224-page measure, which includes 50 stand-alone bills. It has gained 100 sponsors, including Speaker Kevin McCarthy, since it was introduced this week.

“I think this really is the most substantive, conservative election integrity bill that has an opportunity to pass the House floor in over 20 years,” said Steil, a Wisconsin Republican. 

Opponents, including committee ranking member Joseph D. Morelle, a New York Democrat, said the bill caters to election deniers and would disenfranchise voters of color.

Steil and his GOP colleagues announced the bill on Monday at a news conference in Georgia, where a 2021 state election bill drew sharp criticism from the left and led to corporate boycotts and ultimately the relocation of the 2021 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. 

Dubbed the American Confidence in Elections (ACE) Act, its introduction was scheduled to coincide roughly with the two-year anniversary of that backlash, in the state where former President Donald Trump is currently under investigation for allegedly trying to meddle in the 2020 election.

The ACE Act is, according to Steil, a collection of “common sense” measures, despite scant evidence of voter fraud in 2020 or past elections. The bill is not, he said, a reaction to the 2020 election.

“Much of the work on the ACE Act began before 2020. So it would be false to say that this is a reaction to any specific election,” Steil said. “This is a reaction to an opportunity to improve election integrity.”

It would prohibit the federal government from tapping into political donor rolls, encourage states to adopt voter ID laws and make Social Security death data available to states and counties to cull voter rolls. It would also overrule some local Washington, D.C., laws, including a provision that allows noncitizens to vote in local elections.

No Democrats have signed on to the measure, and it’s unlikely to gain traction in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Monday criticized the measure and announced from the floor that “very soon we will once again move to bring real, much-needed voting rights legislation before Congress.”

The Administration Committee held eight hearings on the bill before unveiling it, and a ninth Monday after its introduction. 

Republicans have pointed to the perceived success of Georgia’s conservative voting law as a basis for overhaul. Total turnout was up in 2022 after the bill was enacted, despite warnings from opponents that it would suppress votes. The participation gap between Black and white voters, however, increased compared to the 2018 midterm, according to an analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Committee Democrats have questioned the premise of the bill, noting that there is no evidence of the kind of threats to elections that would justify a need for such changes.

Recent Stories

These Democrats have called on Biden to quit the race

Gaffe track — Congressional Hits and Misses

Trump’s presidential office hours were the shortest since FDR, Biden’s not far behind him

Biden admits other Democrats could beat Trump, but sends potential rivals a message

Photos of the week ending July 12, 2024

At high-stakes news conference, Biden calls Harris ‘Vice President Trump’