President Trump supporters attend a rally in Freedom Plaza Tuesday, the day before the meeting of Congress, to confirm the 2020 electoral college results.
According to the Constitution, the final step in the 2020 presidential election is to have a joint session of Congress on January 6th to count the votes of the electoral college and officially declare a winner. The governors confirmed and sealed their states’ results after their constituents signed them on Dec. 14, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won by 306 votes against Donald Trump and Mike Pence by 232 votes.
This meeting is usually a ceremonial affair, but this year the bitterly divided reaction between the two parties to the 2020 election results is expected to highlight and last for hours.
Watch the livestream from noon CT. More updates can be found here.
If a member of the House of Representatives joins a senator to object to a state’s electoral vote, they can object and force a debate and vote. More than a dozen Republican senators and a large group of GOP lawmakers in the House have announced that they will question the results of several states.
Some of these members even admitted that they don’t expect to succeed or change the outcome, but rather use the process to highlight what they think are fraudulent cases. To date, no evidence has been presented, and legal challenges in states deployed by the Trump campaign and its allies have consistently failed.
How the joint session will work
Vice President Pence will chair the joint meeting and it is his legal duty to make the results known. Members of the House and Senate will meet in the Chamber of the House at 1:00 p.m. ET.
The certificates from each state are opened and read in alphabetical order. If a member of the House of Representatives objects, a Senator must sign the objection in order for it to be considered. According to GOP sources familiar with discussions on the plans, Republican lawmakers keen to object on Wednesday are mainly focused on three states – Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania. They also weigh the challenges facing Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin.
Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz is expected to join the challenge regarding the Arizona results and push for the appointment of an electoral commission to review all election fraud-related claims.
Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who was the first Senator to announce that he would join the House’s GOP efforts, has indicated that his focus is on Pennsylvania. Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler, who had just lost her seat in a runoff election, decided overnight that she would join a challenge for her home state results on Monday.
Procedure for examining and voting on an objection
If both a House member and a Senator register their objection in writing, the joint session will be suspended and the House and Senate will meet separately to discuss the matter for up to two hours. Members can speak for up to 5 minutes each, and then both chambers vote. A simple majority is required in both chambers for an objection to be successful.
Due to the social distancing rules during the coronavirus pandemic, voting takes longer, so any objection can result in hours of debate and voting time.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Will chair every House debate and has Democratic Reps Adam Schiff, Calif., Zoe Lofgren, Calif., Jamie Raskin, Md., And Joe Neguse, Colo responding to GOP objections . But other Democrats from states that Republicans focus on should also speak out against the effort.
In a letter to House Democrats Monday night, Pelosi called the first day “historic” and said Biden and Harris had “won decisively”. She warned members not to view the meeting as a “solemn occasion” and “we will receive a civic lesson on protecting the integrity of our democracy”.
Pence is expected to lead the Senate debate as President of the Senate. But Chuck Grassley, GOP Senator from Iowa who is president, stands ready to be available even if pence is not available for any part of the debate. The president falsely claimed that the vice president could change the results, but neither the constitution nor federal law provides for it.
The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently elected voters.
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2021
An administrative officer who was not empowered to speak about the protocol told NPR on Tuesday, “The Vice President intends to obey the law and uphold the Constitution tomorrow.” That official found that Pence, a lawyer by training, was on prepared the joint session by meeting with the Senate MP, reading legal opinions and studying the Constitution.
After the New York Times reported Tuesday that Pence had told the President over lunch at the White House that he could not block certification for Biden, Trump released a statement late that evening calling the report “false news.” “designated.
The President’s statement continued: “The Vice President and I both agree that the Vice President has authority to act” and the Vice President has “several options under the US Constitution”. The Times stands by their reporting.
After every chamber vote – and one challenge is not expected to be sufficiently successful – the members of the House and Senate return to the joint session and move on to the next state. After processing all of the results, Pence reads the closing balance and announces the election results for the President and Vice President.
Those in charge have warned members that the process is likely to take several hours and could involve nightly votes. Democrats hold a majority in the House of Representatives and around two dozen Republicans in the Senate, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Have announced they will join the Democrats to certify Biden as the winner. So the result is beyond doubt.
Thousands of pro-Trump protesters are expected to come to Washington to support the GOP objections. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has advised residents to stay away from downtown and local law enforcement agencies are ready to respond to possible violent demonstrations.
Copyright 2021 NPR. Further information is available at https://www.npr.org.
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