Republican Senator Ted Cruz will object on Wednesday to the counting of Arizona’s electors, according to a person familiar with his plans, setting the state up to be the first that’s subject to debate in the joint session of Congress to validate Joe Biden’s election as president.
Members from both chambers are needed to raise objections to any single state’s vote, and some House GOP representatives had already planned to take issue with Biden’s Arizona victory. The process begins at 1 p.m. in Washington Wednesday.
Each objection to a state’s vote will halt the counting process, triggering a debate and then a vote by lawmakers. While the effort to block Biden from taking office on Jan. 20 is doomed to fail, it will fracture the Republican caucus and fuel President Donald Trump’s efforts to convince supporters he was robbed of re-election.
The Democratic-controlled House is sure to override any objection to Arizona and other states, and enough Republican senators have come out against the effort to ensure that the Senate will also vote down the attempts.
Cruz is leading a group of 11 GOP senators raising objections, and will argue that the process of counting the Electoral College votes should be stopped to allow time for an emergency commission to be set up and complete a 10-day investigation examining allegations of voter fraud.
States will be called alphabetically. In addition to Cruz and his group, Missouri Republican Josh Hawley said he will object to Pennsylvania’s electors and Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler has signaled she will object to her own state’s electors.
The objections mean that the House and Senate will debate for up to two hours on each state in question, and then vote on them before continuing the count.
A group of House Republicans led by Alabama Representative Mo Brooks will be objecting to six states in total, including Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin. It is not yet clear if any senator will join in the three additional objections and trigger further debate, besides those for Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
Trump is also putting pressure on Vice President Mike Pence to reject electors that he baselessly claims were fraudulently chosen. A lawsuit along these same lines filed by Representative Louie Gohmert in Texas was rejected by a federal court. This places Pence in the uncomfortable position of having to defy his own sponsor for higher office or back an effort that many in his party see as dangerous.
“The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” Trump falsely tweeted Tuesday.
The law only gives the vice president the power to preserve order as the presiding officer and announce the winners,Rebecca Green, an election law professor at William & Mary Law School, said.
“None of these duties include the power to decide controversies that might arise over counting electoral votes or to otherwise decide the outcome of the election,” Green said on a call Tuesday held by the National Task Force on Election Crises. “That’s just not how the law works.”
— With assistance by Mark Niquette
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