A group of eleven Republican senators on Saturday announced plans to object to certification of the Electoral College if a 10-day “emergency audit” of election results in key states is not conducted – the latest in a series of efforts to overturn the election that have become Trump-loyalty litmus tests for Republican politicians.
The group includes a number of incoming senators from deeply red states, including Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
Also included are freshmen Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and John Kennedy (R-La.), as well as longer serving senators Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.).
Some have broken with President Trump on the election in the past: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), who has championed Trump’s voter fraud claims but called the election legitimate, and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who called for Biden to receive intelligence briefings as Trump refused to authorize the transition.
The effort is being led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and joins Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who on Wednesday became the first senator to announce their intent to challenge the results.
The senators cite claims of widespread voter fraud pushed by President Trump but repeatedly rejected by the courts, calling for Congress to appoint an “Election Commission” to probe the results in “disputed states” followed by special state legislative sessions to “certify a change in their vote, if needed.”
“We are not naïve. We fully expect most if not all Democrats, and perhaps more than a few Republicans, to vote otherwise,” wrote the senators, adding, “election integrity should not be a partisan issue.”
140. That’s the minimum number of House Republicans expected to object to the Electoral College – two-thirds of the House GOP caucus. That’s even more than the 129 who signed an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to overturn the election in Trump’s favor.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fought hard to quell efforts within his caucus to challenge the Electoral College, believing the resulting vote over whether to sustain the objections would be politically damaging to many Republicans. McConnell told colleagues on Thursday that his vote to certify Biden’s victory will be “the most consequential vote I have ever cast” in 36 years as a senator, according to Axios.
The last time a senator and a House member teamed up to challenge an electoral college vote was 2005, when Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones challenged President George W. Bush’s 2004 victory in Ohio on the basis of civil rights violations. The objections precipitated two hours of debate in the House and one hour in the Senate before being rejected by wide margins in both chambers.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on Saturday joined Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) in vowing to vote to certify the electoral college, joining 48 Democratic senators. “The oath I took at my swearing-in was to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and that is exactly what I will do,” she said in a statement.
What To Watch For
With votes in both the House and Senate, pro-Trump forces will succeed in prompting debate. However, with a Democratic majority in the House – and likely enough senators in the GOP-controlled Senate to vote down the objections – the effort will undoubtedly fail to do more than delay the inevitable.