Several senators, led by Senator Ted Cruz, say they will reject the Electoral College results unless a commission is appointed to conduct a 10-day audit of the results.the Electoral College votes on January 6.
"We intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not 'regularly given' and 'lawfully certified' (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed," the group said in a statement on Saturday.
Cruz's group is working separately from Republican Senatorin his effort to challenge the Electoral College results when Congress convenes on Wednesday. Dozens of House Republicans are also expected to challenge President-elect Joe Biden's victory even though the Electoral College affirmed his 306 electoral votes in December.
These last-ditch challenges are not going to change the outcome of the election, and Mr. Biden is set to be inaugurated on January 20. Biden transition team spokesperson Michael Gwin called the efforts by these Republicans a "stunt."
"This stunt won't change the fact that President-elect Biden will be sworn in on January 20th, and these baseless claims have already been examined and dismissed by Trump's own attorney general, dozens of courts, and election officials from both parties," Gwin said.
The list of Republican lawmakers challenging the results include some of the party's biggest rising stars, and these efforts are an attempt to curry favor with President Trump and his base.
Cruz is working with Senators Ron Johnson, James Lankford, Steve Daines, John Kennedy, Marsha Blackburn, and Mike Braun, and Senators-elect Cynthia Lummis, Roger Marshall, Bill Hagerty, and Tommy Tuberville. Only one of these senators, Johnson of Wisconsin, represents a state won by Mr. Biden.
In their statement, the senators claim to be trying to restore faith in the democratic process, due to claims of voter fraud. Mr. Trump's legal team was repeatedly unable to provide evidence of voter fraud in several lawsuits challenging the election results.
The statement cites the election of 1876, when Congress appointed an Electoral Commission in early 1877 to consider and resolve disputed election returns.
"Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states. Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission's findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed," the statement said.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS).is required by law to ratify presidential results, but also allows "members to object to the returns from any individual state as they are announced," according to the
Hawley was previously the only Republican senator to commit to challenging the electoral votes in ato deliver Mr. Trump a second term after previous efforts to challenge the election results failed, including losses of several lawsuits brought by the campaign.
"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," Hawley said last week.
But even some Republicans consider the effort by Hawley and others to be damaging to democratic institutions, and have accused them of making a cynical ploy to garner the support of Mr. Trump's voters.
Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania — one of the states that Mr. Trump's supporters may seek to challenge the election results — soundly denounced the actions of Hawley, Cruz and others in a statement on Saturday.
"A fundamental, defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of the people to elect their own leaders. The effort by Senators Hawley, Cruz, and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in swing states like Pennsylvania directly undermines this right," Toomey said. "I voted for President Trump and endorsed him for re-election. But, on Wednesday, I intend to vigorously defend our form of government by opposing this effort to disenfranchise millions of voters in my state and others."
In a scathing tweet last week, Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger said Hawley's "internal monologue" while releasing his statement was: "I want to be President so I decided to try to get POTUS tweet saying I'm great even though I know this isn't going anywhere, but hey... I'll blame someone else when it fails."
Republican Senator Ben Sasse published a lengthy Facebook post on Wednesday saying that anyone seeking to challenge the election results were "playing with fire."
"Let's be clear what is happening here: We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there's a quick way to tap into the president's populist base without doing any real, long-term damage. But they're wrong – and this issue is bigger than anyone's personal ambitions. Adults don't point a loaded gun at the heart of legitimate self-government," Sasse said.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the upcoming electoral vote certification "the most consequential vote" on a call with senators this week, according to Senator Mitt Romney, who was on the call. Romney told reporters Friday that he interpreted McConnell's comments to mean the vote is a "referendum on our democracy."
"Look, I lost in 2012, I know what it's like to lose," said Romney, who ran for president in 2012. "And there were people that said there are irregularities. I have people today who say 'hey you know what you really won' — but I didn't, I lost fair and square. Of course there were irregularities there always are, but spreading this kind of rumor about our election system not working is dangerous for democracy here and abroad."
In their statement, the senators acknowledged they "fully expect most if not all Democrats, and perhaps more than a few Republicans, to vote otherwise" and accept the election results.
"A fair and credible audit-conducted expeditiously and completed well before January 20-would dramatically improve Americans' faith in our electoral process and would significantly enhance the legitimacy of whoever becomes our next President. We owe that to the people," the statement said. "We are acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it. And every one of us should act together to ensure that the election was lawfully conducted under the Constitution and to do everything we can to restore faith in our democracy."