Pence expected to preside over Congress's Electoral College count

Vice President Pence is expected to preside over Congress's counting of the Electoral College vote on Wednesday.

Pence's attendance was thrown into momentary confusion on Tuesday when Roll Call reported that Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyImpeachment trial tests Trump's grip on Senate GOP McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Overnight Health Care: Biden unveils COVID-19 relief plan | Post-holiday surge hits new deadly records | Senate report faults 'broken' system for insulin price hikes MORE (R-Iowa) said he would preside because "we don't expect him [Pence] to be there."

The suggestion sent shock waves through Washington, which is gearing up for a high-profile effort by dozens of congressional Republicans to challenge the election results, stirring up brief chaos as reporters grappled with whether Pence had pulled out of the joint session.


Though Pence's role is ceremonial, he's under public pressure from President TrumpDonald TrumpIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries Pardon-seekers have paid Trump allies tens of thousands to lobby president: NYT MORE to use his position to challenge President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenFear of insider attack prompts additional FBI screening of National Guard troops: AP Iran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries MORE's win. Trump, speaking in Georgia on Monday night, said he hoped Pence "comes through for us," without specifying what steps he hopes the vice president would take.

But a White House official quickly said Grassley's initial comments were not accurate.

And a spokesperson for the 87-year-old GOP senator quickly clarified that Grassley was saying that if Pence needs a break during the hours-long session, he would preside over any Senate debate and votes on challenges to the Electoral College results.

"On a weekly press call with ag reporters, @ChuckGrassley discussed his role as president pro tempore presiding over the Senate tomorrow during expected electoral college certification debate when @VP isn’t present. KEY WORDS: SENATE DEBATE," Grassley's press team tweeted.

According to a transcript provided by Grassley's office, he was asked during a press call on Wednesday about how he planned to vote during the Electoral College counting.


"Well, first of all, I will be — if the Vice President isn't there and we don't expect him to be there, I will be presiding over the Senate. And obviously listening to the debate without saying anything," Grassley said, according to the transcript from his office.

A spokesperson for Grassley later added that the senator "has every expectation that the Vice President will be present on the hill Wednesday."

If Pence skipped Wednesday's session, he wouldn't be the first vice president to do so. In 1969, Vice President Hubert Humphrey declined to preside over the joint session.

Brett Samuels contributed.