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Hawley to challenge Electoral College results in Senate

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyBiden to send Congress immigration reform bill after being sworn in Biden to nix border wall, 'Muslim ban' on first day in office Biden DHS, Intel picks stress need to prioritize cybersecurity after SolarWinds hack 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 BidenTrump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Scalise bringing Donna Brazile as guest to Biden inauguration Sidney Powell withdraws 'kraken' lawsuit in Georgia 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 BrooksDemocratic super PAC targets Hawley, Cruz in new ad blitz Trust between lawmakers reaches all-time low after Capitol riots Biden's new challenge: Holding Trump accountable 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 McConnellTrump has talked to associates about forming new political party: report McConnell, Schumer fail to cut power-sharing deal amid filibuster snag McConnell keeps GOP guessing on Trump impeachment 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 keeps GOP guessing on Trump impeachment Yellen champions big spending at confirmation hearing This week: Tensions running high in Trump's final days 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 PaulMcConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Legislatures boost security after insurrection, FBI warnings Former Missouri senator says backing Hawley was 'worst mistake of my life' MORE (Ky.), Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBlinken affirms plan to keep US embassy in Jerusalem The Intercept bureau chief: Biden's top candidate for DOJ antitrust division previously represented Google Attorneys urge Missouri Supreme Court to probe Hawley's actions before Capitol riot MORE (Texas) and Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonBiden pick for Pentagon cruises through confirmation hearing GOP senator questions constitutionality of an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office GOP senators wrestle with purging Trump from party MORE (Ark.), who like Hawley are viewed as potential 2024 contenders. 

Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerJustice Dept. closes insider trading case against Burr without charges Warnock, Ossoff to be sworn into Senate Wednesday afternoon Georgia secretary of state certifies Warnock, Ossoff victories in Senate runoffs 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 KlobucharSenate Democrats call on Biden to immediately invoke Defense Production Act Senate Democrats make democracy reform first bill of new majority Google completes Fitbit acquisition MORE (D-Minn.) tweeted. 

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Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenRomney calls for Senate to pass sanctions on Putin over Navalny poisoning 'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack Trump administration finalizes rollback of migratory bird protections 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.