House

Congress rejects challenge to Arizona’s presidential vote

Greg Nash

Congress on Wednesday rejected a challenge from congressional conservatives to President-elect Joe Biden’s win in Arizona, hours after rioters stormed the Capitol with the intent of stopping the proceedings.

The Senate voted 93-6 on the objection while the House voted 303-121, with both chambers rejecting the challenge along bipartisan lines.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) had offered the objection to Arizona’s results earlier Wednesday, sparking what was supposed to be two hours of debate and then a vote on whether or not to support the challenge.

But both chambers had their proceedings interrupted after rioters breached the Capitol, including taking over both the House and Senate chambers and vandalizing leadership offices.

The votes represented smaller than expected support for the challenges in the wake of the historic riots, which sent shockwaves throughout Washington and the world amid scenes of chaos and violence in the Capitol.

But it also divided Republicans including at the top ranks with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) supporting the challenge, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) opposed it.

Fourteen GOP senators had been expected to support the challenges to key battleground states but in the end Cruz was joined by GOP Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) and John Kennedy (La.) supported it.

In the House, 121 Republicans supported it after estimates that more than 140 Republicans would support the efforts to overturn Biden’s win in key states.

Still, more House Republicans backed the challenge than opposed it. 

“We’re headed toward tonight the certification of Joe Biden to be the president of the United States and we will work together in this body to be able to set a peaceful example of days ahead,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who had been expected to support the objections.

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), another one of the 14, said he decided against objecting because “I didn’t feel comfortable with today’s events.”

But the debate over the objection was marked with partisan moments.

GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz (Fla.) drew boos from Democrats when he suggested that Trump supporters were angry for being called “a bunch of seditious traitors.”

He also drew applause from Republicans when he urged progressives to stop calling for “defunding the police” — a talking point that has been rejected by most congressional Democrats.

The vote on the challenge to Arizona’s results is one of at least two states Republicans are expected to force votes on before ultimately certifying Biden’s win.

Senate Republicans had hoped they had talked the objectors into dropping their plan to challenge additional states and GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler (Ga.) did say she was no longer planning to object to the Electoral College results from Georgia.

But Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is still expected to object to the election results from Pennsylvania, according to his spokesperson. Assuming Hawley has the support of a House member, the objections will trigger another two hours of debate by both chambers and a vote on whether or not to support the challenge.

“What we are doing here tonight is actually very important because for those who have concerns about the integrity of our elections, those who have concerns about what happened in November, this is the appropriate means, this is the lawful place where those objections and concerns should be heard,” Hawley said from the Senate floor.

Tags 2020 election Arizona Electoral College James Lankford Joe Biden John Kennedy Josh Hawley Kelly Loeffler Kevin McCarthy Marsha Blackburn Matt Gaetz Mike Braun Mitch McConnell Paul Gosar Roger Marshall Ted Cruz

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