Hawley to challenge Electoral College results in Senate

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyBriefing in brief: WH counters GOP attacks on planned SCOTUS pick Manchin and Sinema must help Biden make the Supreme Court look more like America Senate Republicans press federal authorities for information on Texas synagogue hostage-taker MORE (R-Mo.) said on Wednesday that he will object during Congress's counting of the Electoral College vote on Jan. 6, becoming the first GOP senator to back the effort by House conservatives.

The decision by Hawley would ensure a debate and vote in the House and Senate on the Electoral College results.

“I cannot vote to certify the electoral college results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws," Hawley said in a statement.

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"And I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe BidenJoe BidenCourt nixes offshore drilling leases auctioned by Biden administration Laquan McDonald's family pushes for federal charges against officer ahead of early release Biden speaks with Ukrainian president amid Russian threat MORE. At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections. But Congress has so far failed to act," Hawley added.

His office didn't immediately respond to a question about which states he will object to next week.

Hawley's decision comes as a group of House conservatives, led by Rep. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Judge questions Trump's claim of 'absolute immunity' in Jan. 6 lawsuits Alabama GOP gears up for fierce Senate primary clash MORE (R-Ala.), have pledged to make a long-shot bid to overturn the results of the presidential election next Wednesday by objecting to the Electoral College results.

In order to force a debate and a vote on their objection to a state's results House members need the support of a senator who will also object — something they didn't have before Hawley's announcement.

It will be the third time Congress has had to debate an objection since 1887, according to the Congressional Research Service. The other two times, in 1969 and 2005, were ultimately unsuccessful in changing the results of the election and the objections were rejected. 

Congress will convene a joint session on Jan. 6 to formally count the election results. If an objection has the support of both a member of the House and Senate, lawmakers split off into their respective chambers to debate it for up to two hours and vote on whether or not to uphold the objection.

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The objection is not expected to win majority support in either chamber given opposition from Democrats and some Republicans, meaning the efforts in Congress to change the results of the election will fall short. 

But GOP leaders in the Senate had hoped to avoid the fight altogether, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell: I'm going to give Biden's Supreme Court nominee 'a fair look' Progressive millionaire group backs Cisneros, McBath in first public endorsements Clyburn calls for full-court press on voting rights MORE (Ky.) and members of his leadership team publicly urging Republicans against objecting during a conference call earlier this month. 

The vote, Republicans worry, would put a host of GOP incumbents up for re-election in 2022 in a bind by forcing them to decide between throwing their support behind Trump's baseless claims of voter fraud, which many of them have publicly dismissed, or breaking with the president and opening themselves up to a bloody primary fight. 

"I mean, in the Senate, it would ... go down like a shot dog," Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneMcConnell aims to sidestep GOP drama over Trump There is a bipartisan path forward on election and voter protections Juan Williams: It's Trump vs. McConnell for the GOP's future MORE (R-S.D.) told reporters earlier this month. "I just don't think it makes a lot of sense to put everybody through this when you know what the ultimate outcome is going to be."

Hawley is seen as a 2024 presidential contender, and his move will put pressure on other Republicans who may be eyeing the race.

Several other GOP senators have not yet said if they will object, including Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul praises removal of Neil Young songs from Spotify: 'Seeya' YouTube permanently bans Dan Bongino Conservative pundit says YouTube blocked interview with Rand Paul MORE (Ky.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzProgressive millionaire group backs Cisneros, McBath in first public endorsements Manchin and Sinema must help Biden make the Supreme Court look more like America Flake meets with Erdoğan in first official duties as US ambassador MORE (Texas) and Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonSenate Republicans press federal authorities for information on Texas synagogue hostage-taker Sunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion Senate's antitrust bill would raise consumer prices and lower our competitiveness MORE (Ark.), who like Hawley are viewed as potential 2024 contenders. 

Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Eleven interesting races to watch in 2022 Democrats' selective hearing on law and order issues puts everyone at risk MORE (R-Ga.), who is sticking closely to Trump ahead of her runoff election on Tuesday, hasn't said what she will do. Sen.-elect Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) is also drawing close scrutiny after his campaign manager said he was seriously considering objecting. 

Democrats immediately panned Hawley's decision, accusing him of undermining the integrity of the election for his own political benefit.

"This is how you run for President on the Republican side in 2024. You join a coup attempt. Democracy will prevail," Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley — Presented by Cisco — Feds forge ahead on internet 'nutrition labels' Senate set for muted battle over Breyer successor Hillicon Valley — Biden celebrates 'right to repair' wins MORE (D-Minn.) tweeted. 

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Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenThese Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Democrats call on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Former Maryland rep announces bid for old House seat MORE (D-Md.) said that Hawley's actions were " grossly irresponsible." 

"He’s attempting to undermine our democratic process, fuel Trump’s lies about voter fraud, and delay the certification of Biden’s win. In the end, this reckless stunt will fail," Van Hollen said.

—Updated at 12:50 p.m.