McConnell urges GOP senators not to object to Electoral College vote
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is urging Republicans not to object during Congress’s count and certification of the Electoral College vote next month.
McConnell’s comments were made during a caucus call on Tuesday, according to two sources familiar with the call, and come as House Republicans are eyeing a challenge to the results on Jan. 6 during a joint session of Congress.
A Republican senator who participated in the call said that McConnell, Senate Republican Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) all urged colleagues not to object to states’ electoral votes when they are received on the House floor next month.
McConnell warned that any GOP senator who signed onto a House Republican objection to a state’s electoral votes would then force the Senate to debate and vote on the objection, putting fellow GOP senators in a bad position.
The GOP leader said an objection “isn’t in the best interest of everybody.”
No Senate Republicans indicated during the call that they are currently planning to object.
“Not that I heard,” said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), asked if anyone indicated that they would object during the call.
Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), the No. 3 GOP senator, added that he hasn’t “heard of any” GOP senator willing to object next month.
“I think that there was encouragement on the phone for us to accept the result, as much as it’s not what we, you know, would have envisioned for the next four years, and to try to do what’s best for American people, which is to look forward,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said about the call.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) has said he will object as part of next month’s Electoral College count, and is likely to gain support from other Trump allies in the House.
But to successfully force a debate and vote on his objection he’ll need support from at least one GOP senator. That’s only happened twice since 1887, according to the Congressional Research Service.
No Republican senator has joined Brooks, though a few conservatives, including Sens. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Rand Paul (Ky.), haven’t ruled it out.
A growing number of Senate Republicans are acknowledging President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the November election, including McConnell, who congratulated him from the Senate floor on Tuesday, one day after the Electoral College voters gathered to make their votes. Biden and McConnell had their first known conversation since the election on Tuesday.
Top Senate Republicans have also publicly pushed back against talk of trying to object to the election results next month. McConnell didn’t address the issue during a press conference on Tuesday.
Blunt, the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, said Thune had explained to GOP senators “the futility” of objecting to any state’s electoral votes next month.
Thune on Monday said the effort was “not going anywhere.”
If both a House member and senator object, the two chambers would have to meet separately, debate the issue and then have a majority in both chambers vote to uphold the objection to a state’s slate. A lawmaker has never been able to successfully throw out a state’s results.
The uphill effort, members of GOP leadership warn, will only result in delaying the inevitable outcome.
“It creates a debate that has a certain outcome and that will certainly fail,” Blunt said. “I certainly don’t see any merit in that.”
Blunt, who also addressed GOP colleagues during the call, said the tallying of electoral votes during a joint session “should be very non-controversial.”
He noted that Biden dismissed objections to electoral votes when the joint session tallied the results of the 2016 election and that not a single senator signed onto an objection four years ago.
“If you view the Electoral College vote as determinative, the receiving of those votes in the joint session should be very non-controversial,” he said. “I think objecting serves no purpose.”