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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 CornynLimbaugh falsely says Biden didn't win legitimately while reacting to inauguration Top Texas Democratic Party staffers to step down after underwhelming election results K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE (Texas), James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeJustice Dept. closes insider trading case against Burr without charges Biden pick for Pentagon cruises through confirmation hearing McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time MORE (Okla.) and Jerry MoranGerald (Jerry) MoranOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden's Interior Department temporarily blocks new drilling on public lands | Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone | Judge grants preliminary approval for 0M Flint water crisis settlement Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief Group of GOP senators seeks to block Biden moves on Paris, Keystone MORE (Kan.) each said Tuesday that they will not support efforts to challenge President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenRev. Barber says best way to undercut extremism is with honesty Biden requires international travelers to quarantine upon arrival to US Overnight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 MORE's win in key battleground states. 

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That puts them at odds with GOP Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzFor Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief Senate Democrats file ethics complaint against Hawley, Cruz over Capitol attack Poll: Majority of voters support bipartisan commission to probe potential irregularities in the 2020 election MORE (Texas), James LankfordJames Paul LankfordThe Hill's 12:30 Report: What to expect for inauguration GOP Sen. Lankford apologizes to Black constituents for opposing election results 'I saw my life flash before my eyes': An oral history of the Capitol attack MORE (Okla.) and Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official GOP at crossroads after Capitol siege 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 McConnellTrump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February For Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief 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 HawleySenate approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee For Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief Senate Democrats file ethics complaint against Hawley, Cruz over Capitol attack MORE (Mo.) was the first GOP senator to say they will object but Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntBipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief A Day in Photos: The Biden Inauguration GOP senator calls Biden's COVID-19 relief plan a 'non-starter' 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 CassidyBipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief McConnell about to school Trump on political power for the last time Senator releases photos of man wanted in connection with Capitol riot 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 PaulThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official McConnell faces conservative backlash over Trump criticism 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 ScottGOP senator calls Biden's COVID-19 relief plan a 'non-starter' GOP senator questions constitutionality of an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office Biden's minimum wage push faces uphill battle with GOP 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 PelosiOvernight Health Care: Biden unveils virus plan and urges patience | Fauci says it's 'liberating' working under Biden | House to move quickly on COVID-19 relief Overnight Defense: House approves waiver for Biden's Pentagon nominee | Biden to seek five-year extension of key arms control pact with Russia | Two more US service members killed by COVID-19 On The Money: Pelosi says House will move immediately on COVID-19 relief | Biden faces backlash over debt | 900,000 more Americans file for unemployment benefits MORE and House Democrats would have to elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpIran's leader vows 'revenge,' posting an image resembling Trump Former Sanders spokesperson: Biden 'backing away' from 'populist offerings' Justice Dept. to probe sudden departure of US attorney in Atlanta after Trump criticism MORE president rather than Joe Biden. That it is not going to happen, not today or any other day,” he added.