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Cotton breaks with conservative colleagues who will oppose electoral vote count

Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonSunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus Senate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee MORE (R-Ark.), a possible contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, broke with his rivals Sunday night by announcing he will not object to the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6.

Cotton warned that an effort spearheaded by Sens. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTrump DHS chief argues for swift confirmation of Biden pick amid Hawley hold Overnight Defense: Austin takes helm at Pentagon | COVID-19 briefing part of Day 1 agenda | Outrage over images of National Guard troops in parking garage Ethics complaint filed against Biggs, Cawthorn and Gosar over Capitol riot MORE (R-Mo.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBiden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate Ethics complaint filed against Biggs, Cawthorn and Gosar over Capitol riot Hawley, Cruz see approval ratings dip in wake of Capitol riot: poll MORE (R-Texas), two other 2024 White House hopefuls, to challenge the electoral votes of several swing states that went for President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenDC residents jumped at opportunity to pay for meals for National Guardsmen Joe Biden might bring 'unity' – to the Middle East Biden shouldn't let defeating cancer take a backseat to COVID MORE could “establish unwise precedents.”

While Cotton said he is concerned about how the 2020 presidential election was carried out, such as changes to election law allowing mail-in ballots arriving after Election Day to be counted, he argued it is up to the states and the courts — not Congress — to handle election laws.

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“The Founders entrusted our elections chiefly to the states — not Congress. They entrusted the election of our president to the people, acting through the Electoral College — not Congress. And they entrusted the adjudication of election disputes to the courts — not Congress,” he said in a statement released Sunday evening. 

“Under the Constitution and federal law, Congress’s power is limited to counting electoral votes submitted by the state,” he said. 

Cotton warned that if Congress threw out the electoral votes of states such as Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where President TrumpDonald TrumpNYT: Rep. Perry played role in alleged Trump plan to oust acting AG Arizona GOP censures top state Republicans McCain, Flake and Ducey Biden and UK prime minister discuss NATO, multilateralism during call MORE has alleged without evidence widespread election fraud, it would “take away the power to choose the president from the people.” 

He said it would imperil the Electoral College and the voice it gives to smaller states like Arkansas and help Democrats “achieve their longstanding goal of eliminating the Electoral College.” 

He said if Congress overrides the Electoral College’s vote, it would “take another big step toward federalizing election law.”

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“Thus, I will not oppose the counting of certified electoral votes on Jan. 6,” he said. 

Cotton said he is disappointed in the election results and grateful for what Trump accomplished during his four years in office but argued that “objecting to certified electoral votes won’t give him a second term — it will only embolden those Democrats who want to erode further our system of constitutional government.”

Cotton is the second key Trump ally and conservative Republican senator to break with the effort to delay the counting of electoral votes, which is scheduled to take place during a joint session of Congress Wednesday.

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial Democrats formally elect Harrison as new DNC chair McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February MORE (R-S.C.) earlier in the day said an effort led by Cruz and supported by 10 other Republican senators to set up a special commission to audit the results of the 2020 election was a “political dodge.”

“Proposing a commission at this late date — which has zero chance of becoming reality — is not effectively fighting for President Trump. It appears to be more of a political dodge than an effective remedy,” he said.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden leans on Obama-era appointees on climate Kentucky Republican committee rejects resolution urging McConnell to condemn Trump impeachment Calls grow for 9/11-style panel to probe Capitol attack MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Senate chaos threatens to slow Biden's agenda NRSC chair says he'll back GOP incumbents against Trump primary challengers MORE (R-S.D.) have warned Republican colleagues that objecting to states’ electoral votes, which will force members of the Senate to vote on the matter, would be a political mistake.

Both chambers would have to vote throw out a state’s electoral votes, and the chances of that happening are nil with Democrats in control of the House. 

Updated on Jan. 4 at 6:18 a.m.