Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri announced on Wednesday that he oppose the certification of the victory of President-elect Joe Biden to the Electoral College when Congress meets for a joint session next week. The move will force a vote in the Senate and House after a floor debate, something some Republican lawmakers are keen to avoid.
The vote itself is already almost determined, as a successful challenge should win both the Senate and the House, the latter controlled by the Democrats. Biden will still be certified as the winner of the election and will take office on January 20 as scheduled. But Hawley’s challenge, and the debate it triggers, will force some Republicans to voice their thoughts on President Trump’s baseless allegations of electoral fraud. This could put the party in a difficult position in the future.
According to Hawley, some states, including the key battlefield state of Pennsylvania, “did not follow their own election laws.” Almost all legal claims have been dismissed in court.
“At the very least,” the senator added in a statement, “Congress should investigate allegations of electoral fraud and adopt measures to ensure the integrity of our elections. But so far Congress has failed to act.
Hawley’s statement will appeal to some Republican voters, especially strong Trump supporters. But his comments are at odds with key Republican leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who publicly accepted the election results and advised other party members not to do so earlier this month. McConnell feared that prolonging the dispute might hurt Republican votes ahead of two crucial Georgia Senate elections just one day before the Congress meeting on January 6.
On the flip side, some Republican lawmakers could benefit from an official statement in favor of Trump. GOP senators for re-election in 2022 may struggle to win another term if they break with Trump and say they believe the 2020 election was fair.
The move could also be Hawley’s ploy to gain Trump’s base support. The senator was put forward as a potential candidate for the 2024 presidential election.
One thing is clear: The Republican Party is at a crossroads as it decides to remain loyal to Trump – and his ardent fans – or to project an air of integrity ahead of the second round in Georgia, which will largely determine party if Biden can pass liberal legislation. in the first two years of his administration.
Biden’s camp dismissed Hawley’s objection and said Congress’ role in certifying the Electoral College vote was “just a formality.”
“The American people have spoken resoundingly in this election, and 81 million people voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris,” a spokesperson for Biden said Wednesday. “Congress will certify election results as they do every four years.”
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