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 Cornyn (Texas), James Inhofe (Okla.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) each said Tuesday that they will not support efforts to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s win in key battleground states. 

That puts them at odds with GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), James Lankford (Okla.) and Roger Marshall (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 McConnell (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 Hawley (Mo.) was the first GOP senator to say they will object but Sen. Roy Blunt (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. 

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) was one of the 10 senators to back Cruz’s effort, but fellow Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy (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 Paul (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 Scott (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 Pelosi and House Democrats would have to elect Donald Trump president rather than Joe Biden. That it is not going to happen, not today or any other day,” he added.

Tags 2020 election Bill Cassidy Donald Trump Electoral College James Inhofe James Lankford Jerry Moran Joe Biden John Cornyn John Kennedy Josh Hawley Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Rand Paul Roger Marshall Roy Blunt Ted Cruz Tim Scott

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