Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri announced Wednesday he intends to object to the electoral vote certification when Congress convenes January 6 to count each state's electoral votes and reaffirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory.
Hawley is the first — and thus far the only — Republican senator to commit to challenging the electoral votes when lawmakers meet for the joint session to count each state's votes, though several conservative House members have vowed to do so. President Trump has suggested Congress should intervene, with far-flung hopes they will deliver him a second term after previous efforts to challenge the election results failed.
"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," the Missouri Republican said in a statement. "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."
In pledging to raise an objection to the electoral college votes, Hawley is bucking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who asked Republican senators this month not to object when the joint session convenes. Other GOP senators, including those close to Mr. Trump, have suggested such a move would be fruitless.
"In the Senate, it would go down like a shot dog," Senator John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the upper chamber, told reporters this month.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, said challenging the votes would "probably do more harm than good."
The efforts by Hawley and conservative members of the House to challenge the electoral votes are unlikely to succeed, but will prolong the process for affirming Mr. Biden's victory. Even if the Senate voted to sustain an objection, Democrats control the House, so any objection is likely to get voted down there.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday she has "no doubt that on next Wednesday, a week from today, that Joe Biden will be confirmed by the acceptance of the vote of the Electoral College as the 46th president of the United States."
Required by the Constitution, the House and Session will gather for the joint session January 6 to tally the electoral votes from each state and the District of Columbia. The president of the Senate — the vice president — presides over the session.
Lawmakers can make an objection to a state's electoral votes, as Hawley and several House conservatives plan to do. The objection must be made in writing and signed by at least one member of each chamber, and is made after the presiding officer calls for objections after the certification from a state is read.
If the objection is properly made, the joint session suspends, and each chamber meets separately to consider it. During their separate meetings, debate is limited to no more than two hours, and each member can speak only once and for a maximum of five minutes.
Following debate, the Senate and House then vote separately on whether to agree to the objection, with a simple majority needed to affirm it. But if a simple majority does not sustain the objection, the state's electoral votes are counted.
An objection to a state's votes was last considered in 2005, when Senator Barbara Boxer of California and Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio, both Democrats, objected to the electoral votes cast in Ohio, citing voting irregularities. Both chambers, however, overwhelmingly rejected their objection, and Ohio's electoral votes for President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were counted.