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What to expect Congress to do during Wednesday's Electoral College count

The event is expected to go into the night
Posted at 2:31 PM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 16:31:39-05

WASHINGTON — While the election may have ended in November, technically it ends Wednesday. That's because Congress still has to certify the Electoral College vote, which took place last month.

WHAT TO EXPECT?

A joint session of Congress will begin at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday with Vice President Mike Pence presiding in what is considered a ceremonial role. Pence presides because he is president of the Senate.

Each state's Electoral College result will be read out loud and in alphabetical order. Any member of Congress can object to a result.

However, in order for an objection to be deemed valid, it must be in writing and signed by a member of the House of Representatives and a member of the United States Senate. If an objection is deemed valid, each chamber will then have two hours to debate the objection. After that, a vote takes place with a simple majority winning.

WHY IT WILL TAKE LONGER THAN USUAL?

Dozens of Republicans who are loyal to President Donald Trump are expected to object but Trump does not have the votes to win any objection. A majority in both chambers would be needed for that to happen.

What's unclear is how many states Republicans will object. A handful will push the vote into the early evening hours because each valid objection is entitled to two hours of debate.

Pence, who is under pressure from Trump to change the election result, could at any time step down from presiding on his own and be replaced by the President Pro-Tempore Chuck Grassley of Iowa.

WILL ANYTHING CHANGE?

Because Trump doesn't have a majority of votes in either chamber, he cannot win any objection. Republicans could potentially use parliamentary rules and tactics to delay the vote but that is to be determined.

Outside the Capitol, thousands of Trump supporters are expected to gather on the National Mall. Trump is expected to speak there and D.C.'s mayor has asked the National Guard to be deployed for extra security.