Senate GOP opposition grows to objecting to Electoral College results

A growing number of Senate Republicans are formally coming out against challenging the Electoral College results Wednesday, underscoring that the long shot effort is guaranteed to fail even in the GOP-controlled chamber. 

GOP Sens. Kevin Cramer (N.D.), John Hoeven (N.D.) and Shelly Moore Capito (W.Va.) — three Republicans from states where President Trump is deeply popular — said Monday that they will not support challenges to the election results during this week’s joint session, where Congress will formally count the votes.

Hoeven, who is up for reelection in 2022, said in a statement that his constituents “do not want Congress to determine their vote, and we should not set the precedent by doing it for other states.”

“I do not plan to object. Additionally, the courts, not Congress, are responsible for resolving any electoral disputes and any irregularities should be adjudicated through the courts. This is what the Constitution outlines and that is how we should proceed,” Hoeven added.

Cramer, who was elected in 2018, said he shared concerns with those who planned to object. “The Founding Fathers did not design a system where the federal legislative branch could reject a state’s certified choice for President in favor of their own,” he said.

“In light of these concerns, I will not object to the Electoral College votes when they are counted, and – unless overwhelmingly persuasive evidence is presented before the Senate when we debate the objections – I will not vote to reject the results,” he added. 

Capito in her own statement warned that allegations of fraud, probed by state-led investigations and in dozens of court cases, don’t come “anywhere close to the standard for rejecting a state’s electoral votes”

“Several of my congressional colleagues have made clear their plans to object to counting certified electoral votes from certain states. I will oppose their effort because the will of voters in each state — not political considerations or the individual preferences of senators and representatives — must determine the winner of the presidential election,” she added.

The statements from Capito and Cramer come after Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who is up for reelection in 2022 and like Capito an adviser to GOP leaders, announced earlier Monday that he also could not support efforts to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s win Wednesday, when conservatives are expected to challenge key battleground states. 

GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Tom Cotton (Ark.), two close allies of Trump’s, also said on Sunday that they would not support efforts to overturn the election. 

More than 100 House Republicans have been estimated to support the effort. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.), meanwhile, on Monday became the 13th Republican senator to back the challenge. Loeffler’s decision comes hours before Trump will rally in Georgia ahead of Tuesday’s runoff elections that will determine which party controls the Senate majority.  

Senate GOP leadership isn’t formally leaning on its members to oppose objecting to the election results, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) urged his caucus in a call last month to not object because it could force politically tough votes. 

Trump and some of his closest allies have claimed for weeks that the election was “rigged,” a claim rejected in dozens of court cases and by election experts who have shot down claims of widespread voter fraud. Then-Attorney General William Barr also said last month that they had found no widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the election.

Capito, in her statement, warned that refusing to count a state’s votes “in the absence of such evidence would disenfranchise millions of American voters and call into question the very foundation of representative government enshrined in our Constitution.”

“The 2020 presidential election is over. Our country should unite,” she added. 

Cramer added that he had received “overwhelming outreach” from constituents in his deeply red state urging him to object on Wednesday but that couldn’t “in good conscience cast a vote to disenfranchise millions of Americans by overturning the Electoral College results in these states without sufficient evidence or clear constitutional authority.”

“While I am not pleased with the outcome of the election, objecting to the Electoral College votes is not an appropriate or effective way to change the results,” he said.

Updated at 8:12 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden John Hoeven Kelly Loeffler Kevin Cramer Lindsey Graham Mitch McConnell Rob Portman Shelley Moore Capito Tom Cotton William Barr
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