Handful of Republicans prepare to object to certification of electoral college results, a rebellion that is all but destined to fail
After four years of defending and emboldening Donald Trump, Republicans in Congress on Wednesday will face their most consequential test of loyalty yet: to indulge the president’s brazen and meritless bid to overturn the results an election he lost, or to uphold the democratic process and certify Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.
A handful of congressional Republicans are preparing to object to the certification of the electoral college results when Congress meets on Wednesday, turning what is traditionally a perfunctory affair into Trump’s last stand. Their coordinated rebellion, unprecedented in modern times, is all but destined to fail and Biden will be inaugurated on 20 January.
In his increasingly desperate bid to cling to power, Trump, who has not conceded, has spent the last several weeks attempting to enlist allies and pressure public officials to overturn Biden’s 306-232 election win. His machinations escalated this weekend when he pressured the Georgia secretary of state, Republican Brad Raffensberger, to “find” enough votes to reverse Biden’s win in the state.
As required by the constitution, the joint session of Congress will meet to count the electoral votes. The votes will be delivered to the chamber in mahogany boxes and read aloud in alphabetical order of the states, with Mike Pence over the meeting. At the conclusion of the count, it is the vice-president who finally, formally declares the winner.
Around the Capitol, authorities are bracing for “stop the steal” protests they fear could turn violent. Trump, who has encouraged his followers to join the gathering even as coronavirus cases surge across the country, said he plans to attend, as do several of his allies and a number of far-right groups, including the Proud Boys.
Trump has been pressuring Pence to simply reject the vote count. On Tuesday, Trump claimed that “the vice-president has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors”. This is false.
A handful of Trump loyalists in the House have been planning this showdown for weeks. But in recent days the effort gained support from a quarter of Senate Republicans, first from Josh Hawley, an ambitious first-term Republican from Missouri. Days later, a coalition of Republican senators and senators-elect led by the Texas senator Ted Cruz announced their opposition to certifying Biden’s win unless Congress agrees to a 10-day audit of the election results, which is highly unlikely.
On Monday, the Georgia senator Kelly Loeffler, vying to keep her seat, announced that she too would object. (David Perdue, the other Republican candidate in Georgia, supports the effort but will not vote because his term expired on Sunday.)
In the House, where the effort is led by the Ohio congressman Jim Jordan, a top Trump ally, Republicans said the plan to voice objections to Biden’s wins in six swing states: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
To succeed, an objection must come from both a member of the House and the Senate. Hawley has said he planned to object to the results from Pennsylvania, while Cruz plans to object to the results in Arizona. Both are considered presidential contenders in 2024, seeking to ingratiate themselves with Trump’s fervent base.
The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, sought to avoid this internecine showdown, keenly aware of the political blowback members of his caucus will face – either for defying the president or attempting to subvert the will of millions of voters. Several Senate Republicans have condemned the effort – more than enough needed to ensure the campaign will fail. The Republican senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska has called it a “dangerous ploy”. And Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, one of the states that is expected to draw an objection, denounced what he said was his colleagues “effort to disenfranchise millions of voters in my state and others”.
All 50 states have certified the election results after a number of closely contested states conducted post-election audits and recounts to ensure their accuracy. Courts at every level, including the supreme court, have rejected dozens of lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies to challenge the results.
None of the senators who plan to reject the results of the election have come forward with specific allegations of fraud. Instead they have pointed to public opinion polls that show, after weeks of the president and his allies insisting the election was stolen from him, their supporters believe the election was “rigged” as evidence that further investigation was needed.
News – Republicans face test of loyalty to Trump as Congress meets to certify election