Republican U.S. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri said Wednesday that he would contest next week’s certification of the Electoral College vote in a last-ditch but almost certainly futile effort to upend Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in last month’s election over President Donald Trump.
Hawley’s challenge, coupled with a Republican protest in the House of Representatives led by Representative Mo Brooks of Alabama, ensures that the two chambers in Congress on January 6 will debate the legitimacy of Biden’s 306-232 victory in the Electoral College that would make him the country’s 46th president at his inauguration on January 20.
Biden’s incoming White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters Wednesday that despite any “antics,” Biden would be sworn in as scheduled next month.
In the U.S.’s indirect form of democracy, the outcome of the Electoral College vote determines who wins the presidency, not the national popular vote, although Biden won that as well by 7 million votes.
Debate in both chambers
The Hawley and Brooks protests are likely to force both the House and Senate to debate for up to two hours on whether to overturn the already state-certified outcomes of the popular votes in several states Biden won narrowly and to reject his winner-take-all collection of electoral votes in each of those states. Both congressional chambers would have to vote to overturn the vote in any individual state for the overall electoral vote count to be changed.
But Democrats will narrowly maintain control of the House after new lawmakers are sworn in Sunday and are certain to decide any disputes in Biden’s favor.
Political control of the Senate remains unsettled pending two runoff elections in Georgia set for next Tuesday. But several Republicans have acknowledged Biden won the election and could also join Democrats in the Senate to vote against Trump.
Trump has refused to concede his defeat in the November 3 election, tweeting daily unfounded claims that he was defrauded out of election to a second four-year term.
On Wednesday, Trump called for the resignation of Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp, who has rejected the president’s claim that he won the Southern state even as an initial count and two recounts of the vote there showed Biden the winner by just under 12,000 votes out of 5 million ballots cast.
Trump called Kemp an "obstructionist" in a tweet:
Hearings from Atlanta on the Georgia Election overturn now being broadcast. Check it out. @OANN @newsmax and many more. @BrianKempGA should resign from office. He is an obstructionist who refuses to admit that we won Georgia, BIG! Also won the other Swing States.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 30, 2020
Earlier in the week, Trump tweeted to his supporters, “See you in Washington, DC, on January 6th. Don’t miss it.”
Hawley, 40, a first-term senator, said in a statement, “I cannot vote to certify the Electoral College results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws.”
“And I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden,” Hawley said. “At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections. But Congress has so far failed to act.”
Hawley’s announced intention to contest the Electoral College outcome goes against the wishes of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who earlier this month urged other Republican senators to accept Biden’s victory and avoid having to vote on whether to back Trump in a losing effort and appear to be trying to thwart the will of the people who favored Biden.
Trump has lost dozens of lawsuits claiming voting and vote-counting irregularities cost him re-election.