WASHINGTON ― Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) cast the only vote Tuesday against a bipartisan bill designed to prevent another insurgency like the one on Jan. 6, 2021.
Cruz played a leading 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 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 vote of 14 to 1, that would make it more difficult for Cruz to raise another objection in the 2025 presidential election. Cruz was the only member of the committee to vote against the project.
“The main reason this bill is problematic is that it seeks to diminish the ability of the United States Congress to address the real problem of voter fraud,” Cruz said.
Cruz was careful not to directly say that President Joe Biden won the 2020 election by fraud, as that would be a blatant lie. Dozens of courts, as well as senior Trump campaign and administration officials, have said the election was not rigged, contrary to the former president’s false claims.
Instead, Cruz criticized a straw man: the idea that there is no voter fraud Absolutely not, as in no case of an ineligible voter who has accidentally cast a ballot or who has deliberately voted twice.
In 2020, Cruz stated, “Democrats started clutching their pearls and insisting that there was no voter fraud, that it never happened, and anyone who says it happens is wearing a tinfoil hat and he’s a conspiracy theorist.”
An Associated Press investigation published in 2021 found several hundred potentially fraudulent votes in 2020, almost all of which were perpetrated by individuals acting alone and not as part of a conspiracy to rig the election. The sum total of their individual efforts failed to affect the outcome of the election in a single state.
“It does not eliminate the ability of Congress to look at 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 this Picayune voter fraud exists, but Cruz pretended otherwise. And he hinted that maybe the Democrats do use fraud to call elections.
“I think Democrats today have made a really cynical political decision that voter fraud, they believe, helps elect more Democrats, and therefore the more fraud the better,” Cruz said. “What this bill does is diminish the ability of Congress to address cases of fraud when they occur.”
One of the bill’s key provisions would require one-fifth of lawmakers in both the House and Senate to oppose a state’s election result. When Cruz raised his objection on January 6, 2021, all he needed was himself and one House member. The effort failed to change the outcome, but it gave Trump an opportunity for his attempted insurgency.
Cruz said the Election Counting Act of 1887, the law that created congressional procedures for certifying a presidential election, had been carefully drafted after the contentious presidential election of 1876. But the bill would limit amend that 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 the election count procedures; Trump had wanted Mike Pence to somehow rule out the 2020 outcome.
“It is not a new effort by Congress to interfere in the electoral process; it just seeks to clarify a law that virtually everyone who has discussed it over the past 25 years has agreed is archaic and confusing,” King said. “It doesn’t eliminate the ability of Congress to look at any aspect of elections; it just says that one or two people can’t do it.”
Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) suggested that election standards from the late 1880s may 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.
Supporters of the bill have said it will get a full Senate vote sometime before the end of the year.