Cotton breaks with conservative colleagues who will oppose electoral vote count

Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonSunday shows preview: US reaffirms support for Ukraine amid threat of Russian invasion Senate's antitrust bill would raise consumer prices and lower our competitiveness Sinema scuttles hopes for filibuster reform 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 HawleyMissouri Senate candidate says Congress members should go to jail if guilty of insider trading On The Money — Ban on stock trading for Congress gains steam The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Schumer tees up doomed election reform vote MORE (R-Mo.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHow Cruz Supreme Court case could lead to unlimited anonymous election spending Poll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second The politics of 'mind control' 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 BidenDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors On The Money — Vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses nixed Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul 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.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 GrahamSenators huddle on Russia sanctions as tensions escalate Juan Williams: It's Trump vs. McConnell for the GOP's future Biden's year two won't be about bipartisanship  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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHow Cruz Supreme Court case could lead to unlimited anonymous election spending Trump and Biden should stop denigrating US elections The Armageddon elections to come MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThere is a bipartisan path forward on election and voter protections Juan Williams: It's Trump vs. McConnell for the GOP's future Biden's year two won't be about bipartisanship  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.