The House and Senate will meet for a joint session Wednesday to certify the Electoral College results, the last step in finalizing the presidential win for Joe Biden – but some GOP lawmakers are saying not so fast.
The electoral vote was held Dec. 14, following the Nov. 3 popular vote.
Trump has continuously claimed that the election was fraudulent, despite former Attorney General William Barr announcing last month that the Justice Department had not “seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has also refused to review two cases, and more than 50 lawsuits challenging the results have been thrown out in the lower courts.
But some GOP lawmakers say a 10-day emergency audit needs to be completed by an electoral commission to restore voters’ faith in the U.S. election process – a demand that has frustrated not only Democrats but is splitting the Republican Party.
A dozen Republican senators, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have said they will object to the elections results if an audit is not completed.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks in Cumming, Ga., Jan. 2, 2021. (Associated Press)
Here’s what to expect Wednesday.
How the Electoral College vote is certified
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives meet every Jan. 6 following a presidential election to certify the states’ votes at 1 p.m. in the House Chamber.
As president of the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence will open the results of each state’s vote alphabetically, before handing them to two “tellers” from both the House and Senate to present the results.
Pence will ask if there are any objections to the results of every state, at which time a written objection can be presented as long as it has been signed by at least one representative and one senator.
The joint session is then suspended so both the Senate and the House can debate any objections separately for two hours, where each member may speak only once, and for no longer than five minutes.
Both chambers then vote on the objection, which requires a simple majority to be sustained. If the majority is not met then the objection is disposed and the state’s vote is counted.
Is anyone expected to object?
Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., has lead the way for GOP lawmakers in the House to voice their objections, though until recently he did not have the backing of a senator.
Despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging GOP senators to accept the results of the election — which saw Biden win the popular tally by 7 million votes — Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., announced earlier this week that he would be objecting to results from some states, such as Pennsylvania, where he contests the legitimacy of the mail-in votes counted. He was then joined by another group of eleven senators, who on Saturday demanded a 10-day audit.
But it’s not only Democrats that have voiced their frustrations over the calls for an electoral commission: Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., has rejected the demand, saying Trump’s loss was “explained by the decline in suburban support.”
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 10, 2020. (Associated Press)
“A fundamental, defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of the people to elect their own leaders,” Toomey said in a Saturday statement. “The effort by Senators Hawley, Cruz, and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in swing states like Pennsylvania directly undermines this right.”
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called the move an “egregious ploy” and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she would uphold the Electoral College vote because she “swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution.”
Will Republicans be able to overturn a state’s vote?
Brooks told Fox News on Saturday night that more than 50 members of Congress have committed to objecting to results in states “who’s election systems were untrustworthy.”
And while the number of GOP objectors is likely to be substantial, they would have to have a simple majority in the House to successfully get through an objection – which would require the backing of every Republican and some Democrats who hold the House majority.
The same holds true in the Senate, and with only a dozen Republicans there looking to object state’s election results, being able to pass through an objection remains highly unlikely.