As many as 140 Republican House members are expected to object to certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory as part of President Donald Trump’s continued efforts to overturn his reelection loss.
“2 House Republicans tell me they expect as of now that at least 140 Republican Members of the House will on Jan. 6 object to and vote against the Electoral College results,” tweeted CNN host Jake Tapper on Thursday.
Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) told Forbes a “staggering number” of his Republican House colleagues will likely object, adding, “140 certainly seems possible… I wouldn’t be surprised if it were a little higher.”
Riggleman said he initially expected around a hundred objections but that “pressure [is] being exerted” on House Republicans – as evidenced by state delegations putting out joint statements vowing to object to the vote.
“I would be getting pressure right now,” said Riggleman – who lost renomination to a right-wing challenger in June – adding that the vote to object “keeps their base happy, they know it’ll keep the conference happy and they know it’s not gonna win anyway.”
Riggleman said there is “not a whole lot of excitement for that vote” because most of his colleagues don’t believe in the systemic fraud Trump has alleged, echoing Sen. Ben Sasse, who said, “When we talk in private, I haven’t heard a single Congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent – not one.”
Just one senator has confirmed they will join the effort: Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said Wednesday he plans to object because “some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws” – an argument repeatedly rejected by the court.
The rejections will trigger debates in both chambers, allowing Republicans to make their arguments.
Hawley’s plan to object is in defiance of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has instructed members of his caucus not to object to the electoral college because the eventual vote on whether to sustain objections would put Republican senators in a difficult position. Hawley was absent from a call with Republican senators Thursday morning in which McConnell hoped to challenge him on his position, according to Politico and Axios. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) also opposes Hawley’s move.
Josh Hawley (SENATOR) statement:
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. 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,” he said. “For these reasons, I will follow the same practice Democrat members of Congress have in years past and object during the certification process on January 6 to raise these critical issues.
Just 49 Republican members of Congress have publicly acknowledged Biden as president-elect – 25 House members and 24 senators, including McConnell and Toomey. Biden said during an interview with Stephen Colbert earlier this month that several Republicans called him to ask for time to recognize his victory because they are in a “tough spot” politically.
9. That’s how many objections Biden himself – as President of the Senate – shut down during certification of Trump’s victory at a joint session of Congress in 2017. All the objections came from House Democrats alleging Russian meddling, voter suppression and civil rights violations, but because none had a senator backing them, Biden repeatedly said the objections “cannot be entertained” and that there was “no debate.”
The last time a senator and a House member teamed up to challenge an electoral college vote was 2005, when Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones challenged President George W. Bush’s 2004 victory in Ohio on the basis of civil rights violations. The objections precipitated two hours of debate in the House and one hour in the Senate before being rejected by wide margins in both chambers.
What To Watch For
The number of House members who object is non-salient in terms of the strength of objections. With Hawley’s Senate vote, the objections will result in debate but will undoubtedly be rejected by the Democrat-controlled House – and, likely, the Republican-controlled Senate. Thus, certification of the result will be delayed but not thwarted.