Republicans mounting an unprecedented challenge to Joe Bidens election win are setting up a congressional showdown on Wednesday that threatens to divide their party and the country for years to come.
With protestors already gathering in Washington to support President Donald Trump, the House and the Senate will convene a joint session to count the electoral votes cast in Novembers election. Trump has repeatedly said there was widespread fraud, but his claims have been roundly rejected by Republican and Democratic election officials in state after state and by judges, including at the Supreme Court, further cementing Bidens victory.
Trump sees the joint session of Congress as one of his final attempts to overturn the results, even though there is no credible path for that to happen. Echoing Trumps baseless claims, some of his Republican allies in Congress plan to formally object to the results, focusing on six battleground states Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But a growing number of their GOP colleagues, especially in the Senate, said they would not sign on.
If an objection has support from both a House member and a senator in writing, then both chambers will vote on it. That could happen three or more times on Wednesday as Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, along with at least ten other GOP senators, have indicated they will support at least some of the House challenges. It is unclear just what the Republican senators will do, but the process could drag into the night as the two chambers will have to consider each objection individually.
There could be more than 100 Republicans in the House willing to object.
The challenge to the presidential election is on a scale unseen since the aftermath of the Civil War, though the typically routine process of confirming Electoral College votes has been hit with brief objections before. In 2017, several House Democrats challenged Trumps win, but Biden, who presided at the time as the vice president, swiftly dismissed them to assert Trumps victory. In 2005, a challenge by a Democratic House member and a Democratic senator to George W Bushs victory in Ohio was quickly dismissed by both chambers.
The effort this week is expected to be much broader, but is all but certain to fail. Biden is set to be inaugurated Jan. 20.
Republicans had not yet settled on a full strategy the night before the joint session. A late-night meeting on Monday convened by Cruz reached few conclusions, according to two Republicans familiar with the situation and granted anonymity to discuss it. Cruz will object to electoral results from Arizona, another Republican said likely to be the first objection considered, in a state Biden won.
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