Senate

Toomey, Murkowski to oppose GOP effort to challenge election results

GOP Sens. Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) said on Saturday that they will oppose efforts by at least a dozen of their Republican colleagues to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win next week.

Murkowski, in a statement issued Saturday reaffirmed that she would back the results of the 2020 election during a joint session of Congress Jan. 6. 

“I will vote to affirm the 2020 presidential election. The courts and state legislatures have all honored their duty to hear legal allegations and have found nothing to warrant overturning the results. I urge my colleagues from both parties to recognize this and to join me in maintaining confidence in the Electoral College and our elections,” Murkowski said. 
 

Toomey said the “evidence is overwhelming that Joe Biden won this election.”

The GOP senator also offered blistering criticism of some of his GOP colleagues to challenge the election results next Wednesday.

“A fundamental, defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of the people to elect their own leaders. The effort by Senators Hawley, Cruz, and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in swing states like Pennsylvania directly undermines this right,” Toomey said in a statement.

Toomey’s home state of Pennsylvania and other battlegrounds faced legal battles from President Trump and his allies to challenge the results of the election. Biden won the Keystone State over Trump by over 1 percent of the vote in November. 

“The senators justify their intent by observing that there have been many allegations of fraud. But allegations of fraud by a losing campaign cannot justify overturning an election. They fail to acknowledge that these allegations have been adjudicated in courtrooms across America and were found to be unsupported by evidence,” Toomey added.

Eleven Republicans, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Saturday, announced that they would support challenges to the Electoral College results unless there was a 10-day audit.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) had previously announced that he would object on Wednesday. 

Trump, who has endorsed efforts to challenge the election results in Congress, has claimed that the election was tainted by widespread voter fraud. The 11 senators, in their joint statement, said that the 2020 election included “unprecedented allegations of voter fraud.”

The attempts by Trump’s legal team to challenge the results in key states have been dismissed by the courts and election experts have rejected claims of widespread voter fraud. 

If an objection has the support of a member of the House and a member of the Senate, the two chambers separate and debate it for up to two hours. Both the House and Senate would then vote on whether to uphold the objection, which would require a majority in both chambers to be successful.

Toomey, who previously spoke out against Hawley’s plan during a GOP phone call this week, added in his statement that on Wednesday he would “vigorously defend our form of government by opposing this effort to disenfranchise millions of voters in my state and others.” 

Wednesday’s objections will fail because Democrats control the House and several GOP senators have said they will oppose objections next week.

But Wednesday will mark only the third time since 1887 that Congress has had to debate and vote on an objection. The attempts to change the results in 1969 and 2005 were also unsuccessful.

The statement from Murkowski and Toomey are the latest sign of public pushback from Senate Republicans amid deep frustration in the caucus over Hawley’s and others’ decision to support challenging the election results.

In order to force a debate and vote, House conservatives needed the support of at least one senator, something that they did not have before Hawley’s announcement on Wednesday. 

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), in an open letter to constituents, accused the lawmakers of trying to win over the president’s supporters, adding, “Adults don’t point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government.”  

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said that objecting during the Wednesday joint session “continues to spread the false rumor that somehow the election was stolen.” And Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) questioned why Hawley was going through with his plan.  

“I question why he is doing it when the courts have unanimously thrown out the suits that the president’s team have filed for lack of credible evidence,” Collins said. “Senator Hawley is a smart attorney who clerked for the Supreme Court so he clearly understands that. So I don’t understand.”

The public infighting is a scenario GOP leadership had hoped to avoid. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other top Republicans had urged GOP senators to not object during the joint session, warning that it would only result in politically tough votes that wouldn’t change the outcome of the election.

McConnell, during a separate GOP conference call on Thursday, also called Wednesday one of the most important votes in his congressional career. McConnell, as part of the call, asked Hawley to explain his thinking. The freshman senator wasn’t on the call, but subsequently sent an email to the caucus. 

“He said it was the most consequential vote,” Romney recounted to reporters about McConnell’s remarks. “I see that as a statement that he believes … it’s a referendum on our democracy.”

Tags Ben Sasse Donald Trump Joe Biden Josh Hawley Lisa Murkowski Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney Pat Toomey Susan Collins Ted Cruz

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