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Electoral College fight splits GOP as opposition grows to election challenge

Wednesday’s fight over a long-shot effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election is dividing Republicans, including those from the same state, as opposition grows to the plan. 

Several Republican senators formally announced on Tuesday that they will oppose challenging the Electoral College results, meaning GOP senators in at least five states will split when Congress convenes its joint session on Wednesday where lawmakers will count the votes, a pro forma exercise that in previous years has taken a matter of minutes. 

GOP Sens. John CornynJohn CornynThere will be no new immigration law under Biden, unless he changes course Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Cornyn is most prolific tweeter in Congress so far in 2021 MORE (Texas), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate nixes Trump rule limiting methane regulation | Senate confirms EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead' | Fine-particle pollution disproportionately hurts people of color: research EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead' Senate confirms Pentagon policy chief criticized by Republicans for tweets MORE (Okla.) and Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranBottom line Hawley votes against anti-Asian hate crime bill Senate passes anti-Asian hate crimes bill MORE (Kan.) each said Tuesday that they will not support efforts to challenge President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Manchin, Biden huddle amid talk of breaking up T package Overnight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals MORE's win in key battleground states. 

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That puts them at odds with GOP Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFormer CEO Glenn Youngkin wins Virginia GOP gubernatorial convention The Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel Cheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts MORE (Texas), James LankfordJames Paul LankfordRubio and bipartisan group of senators push to make daylight saving time permanent Senate inches toward COVID-19 vote after marathon session Ron Johnson grinds Senate to halt, irritating many MORE (Okla.) and Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallSasse to introduce legislation giving new hires signing bonuses after negative jobs report Bad jobs report amplifies GOP cries to end 0 benefits boost Fauci vs. Rogan: White House works to stomp out misinformation MORE (Kan.), who have each pledged to support objections absent the formation of a commission to conduct a 10-day audit. 

Cornyn — who is close to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellManchin, Biden huddle amid talk of breaking up T package Romney: Removing Cheney from House leadership will cost GOP election votes The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden reverses Trump limits on transgender protections MORE (R-Ky.) and previously described plans to challenge the election as a “futile exercise” — released a statement on Tuesday saying he would not support challenges to the Electoral College results absent “substantial, new evidence.”

“The challenges must be decided on the merits and nothing else. The Constitution and federal law gives us a roadmap to follow and we should follow it. But allegations alone will not suffice. Evidence is required,” he said. 

Moran warned that a “vote to reject these state-certified electoral votes would be to act outside the bounds of the Constitution, which I will not do.” And Inhofe, who was recently reelected, said that constitutionally his job is to “ensure the electors are properly certified and count the electoral votes, even when I disagree with the outcome.”

In addition, the Electoral College fight is dividing Republicans in Missouri, where Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTrump plugs Hawley's new book over tech industry Cheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts Pollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee MORE (Mo.) was the first GOP senator to say they will object but Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntTop female GOP senator compares Cheney ousting to 'cancel culture' House conservatives take aim at Schumer-led bipartisan China bill Biden to meet with GOP senators amid infrastructure push MORE (Mo.), a member of GOP leadership who is up for reelection in 2022, has said he will not join any objections citing his role helping oversee Wednesday's session. 

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Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) was one of the 10 senators to back Cruz's effort, but fellow Louisiana Sen. Bill CassidyBill CassidyUtah county GOP censures Romney over Trump impeachment vote Amazon blocks 10B listings in crackdown on counterfeits Cassidy on pipeline cyberattack: Congress must equip businesses with defenses against incursions MORE (R) signed on to a bipartisan statement released on Sunday urging senators to support the election results and move on. 

It’s unclear if they will be the only splits. McConnell urged his caucus to oppose objecting and is expected to vote no himself but Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Sherrod Brown calls Rand Paul 'kind of a lunatic' for not wearing mask Overnight Health Care: WHO-backed Covax gets a boost from Moderna MORE (R-Ky.) has been mum on whether he will object. 

Under the rules governing Congress’s joint session, if a member of the House and the Senate both object the session is paused and lawmakers go to their respective chambers to debate the issue for up to two hours. For a challenge to the results to be successful it needs the support of both the House and Senate, guaranteeing any objection on Wednesday will fail. 

Though 13 GOP senators have endorsed challenging the election results, a growing number are coming out against the effort. At least 24 GOP senators are expected to vote no. More than a dozen others are publicly undecided but many are expected to break in favor of upholding Biden's win. 

Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottJuan Williams: Tim Scott should become a Democrat Clyburn says he's willing to compromise on qualified immunity in policing bill Democrats hit crucial stretch as filibuster fight looms MORE (R-S.C.), who is up for reelection in 2022, became one of the latest senators to announce they would oppose challenging the Electoral College results. 

“As I read the Constitution, there is no constitutionally viable means for the Congress to overturn an election wherein the states have certified and sent their Electors,” Scott said in a statement on Tuesday. 

Scott added that he didn't doubt that some of his colleagues are concerned about fraud but “I disagree with their method both in principle and in practice.”

“For their theory to work, Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden reverses Trump limits on transgender protections The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns This week: Congressional leaders to meet with Biden amid GOP reckoning MORE and House Democrats would have to elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner says election was not 'stolen,' calls Biden 'our president' Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections Overnight Defense: US fires 30 warning shots at Iranian boats | Kabul attack heightens fears of Afghan women's fates | Democratic Party leaders push Biden on rejoining Iran deal MORE president rather than Joe Biden. That it is not going to happen, not today or any other day,” he added.