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H.Res. 1155: Reaffirming the House of Representatives’ commitment to the orderly and peaceful transfer of power called for in the Constitution of the United States, and for other purposes.

Sep 29, 2020 at 8:08 p.m. ET. On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Agree in the House.

This was a vote to agree to H.Res. 1155 (116th) in the House. This vote was taken under a House procedure called “suspension of the rules” which is typically used to pass non-controversial bills. Votes under suspension require a 2/3rds majority. A failed vote under suspension can be taken again.

The overwhelming majority of Republicans supported the resolution, but not all of them.

Context

President Donald Trump has claimed that he might refuse to leave office if he loses the 2020 presidential election. During a September 23 press conference, in response to a question about whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power, Trump responded, “Well, we’re going to have to see what happens.”

Whether he would actually follow through or was just blustering is unclear at this point. But within days of Trump’s answer, a House and Senate resolution were introduced to get members of Congress on the record, pre-election, about whether they would endorse a peaceful transfer of power in event of a Trump loss.

What the resolutions do

Both resolutions declare that the House or Senate, respectively, “reaffirms its commitment to the orderly and peaceful transfer of power called for in the Constitution of the United States” and “intends that there should be no disruptions by the President or any person in power to overturn the will of the people of the United States.”

The Senate version was introduced on September 24 as S. Res. 718, by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). The House version was introduced a few days later on September 29 as H. Res. 1155, by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA15).

What supporters say

Supporters argue that a peaceful transfer of power is one of the hallmarks of the American system, where so far there has never been a president who refused to leave office.

“Since the dawn of our nation, every President has honored the orderly and peaceful transfer of power to his successor following an election, but President Trump repeatedly has said he might not allow this,” Rep. Swalwell said in a press release. “His threat to refuse to accept defeat should worry every American regardless of party. With this resolution, the House will express its commitment to democracy and its intent that nobody can subvert the will of the people of the United States.”

“We have come through a lot in our country, and we continue to be challenged. But I believe to have the leader of the free world talk as if we are an autocracy, authoritarian versus a democracy, is something that alarmed me and alarmed a lot of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” Sen. Manchin said on the Senate floor. “This is not who we are, and we must speak loudly. This is not politics. This is not Republican or Democrat. Make no mistake. This is basically if you believe, for the sake of the good Lord and all we believe in and our country, this is about maintaining this democracy.”

What opponents say

Opponents counter that they can’t commit to a peaceful transfer of power yet, when it’s unclear if there will be any election malfeasance or irregularities. Plus they claim that the previous presidential transition when Trump was coming in wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. (Although this is not what “peaceful transfer of power” means. A peaceful transfer of power is one in which the outgoing administration doesn’t attempt to remain in office. )

“They ask me, ‘If you lose, will there be a friendly transition?’ Well, when I won, did they give me a friendly transition? They spied on my campaign, they did all this stuff,” Trump said at an October rally in Circleville, Ohio. “That was not a friendly transition.”

While it’s true that the FBI under Obama’s presidency specifically surveilled former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page because they suspected he was colluding with Russian operatives, it’s false to say that they spied on “Trump’s campaign” in totality. Nor is there any evidence that Obama himself personally ordered or was personally involved in the investigation. Even the next FBI director Christopher Wray, who Trump himself appointed, said both the investigation and surveillance had been completely legal.

Votes

The Senate vote passed on September 24 by unanimous consent, a procedural move used for relatively noncontroversial votes with little or no opposition.

The House held a roll call vote on September 29, where it passed overwhelmingly 397–5. All voting Democrats approved 222–0, while voting Republicans also overwhelmingly approved 174–5. The five Republican dissenters were Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL1)Louie Gohmert (R-TX1)Clay Higgins (R-LA3)Steve King (R-IA4), and Thomas Massie (R-KY4).

“I agree… that a peaceful transfer of power is imperative when a sitting president loses reelection in a fair race,” Rep. Gohmert said in a statement. “However, I voted ‘no’ on the House Democrats’ resolution because it singles out President Donald Trump demanding ‘no disruptions’ and irresponsibly fails to mention the need for the Democrat candidate to also accept the results of a fair election as well.”

Totals

All Votes D R L
Yea 99%
 
 
 
397
222
 
174
 
1
 
Nay 1%
 
 
 
5
0
 
5
 
0
 
Not Voting
 
 
 
29
10
 
19
 
0
 

Passed. 2/3 Required. Source: house.gov.

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Study Guide

How well do you understand this vote? Use this study guide to find out.

You can find answers to most of the questions below here on the vote page. For a guide to understanding the resolution this vote was about, see here.

What was the procedure for this vote?

  1. What was this vote on?
  2. Not all votes are meant to pass legislation. In the Senate some votes are not about legislation at all, since the Senate must vote to confirm presidential nominations to certain federal positions.

    This vote is related to a resolution. However, that doesn’t necessarily tell you what it is about. Congress makes many decisions in the process of passing legislation, such as on the procedures for debating the resolution, whether to change the resolution before voting on passage, and even whether to vote on passage at all.

    You can learn more about the various motions used in Congress at EveryCRSReport.com. If you aren’t sure what the House was voting on, try seeing if it’s on this list.

  3. What is the next step after this vote?
  4. Take a look at where this resolution is in the legislative process. What might come next? Keep in mind what this specific vote was on, and the context of the resolution. Will there be amendments? Will the other chamber of Congress vote on it, or let it die?

    For this question it may help to briefly examine the resolution itself.

What is your analysis of this vote?

  1. What trends do you see in this vote?
  2. Members of Congress side together for many reasons beside being in the same political party, especially so for less prominent legislation or legislation specific to a certain region. What might have determined how the roll call came out in this case? Does it look like Members of Congress voted based on party, geography, or some other reason?

    One tool that will be helpful in answering this question is the cartogram at the top of the page. A cartogram is a stylized map of the United States that shows each district as an identical hexagon. This view allows you to see the how the representatives from each district voted arranged by their geography and colored by their political party. What trends can you see in the cartogram for this vote?

  3. How did your representative vote?
  4. There is one vote here that should be more important to you than all the others. These are the votes cast by your representative, which is meant to represent you and your community. Do you agree with how your representative voted? Why do you think they voted the way they did?

    If you don’t already know who your Members of Congress are you can find them by entering your address here.

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