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More GOP senators say they won't join effort to object to electoral votes

GOP lawmakers prepare to challenge vote count
Congress prepares for electoral vote count fight Wednesday 09:22

Washington — As the House and Senate prepare to gather in a joint session on Wednesday to tally electoral votes and affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, the number of GOP senators rejecting an effort by their fellow Republicans to challenge some states' results is swelling.

A slew of senators announced Tuesday they will not join the objections expected from their Republican colleagues to the electoral votes cast for Mr. Biden in several battleground states, bringing the number of Republicans expected to support the counting of those votes to at least 20. Among those who announced their decision not to bless the efforts from their fellow Republicans are Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and John Boozman of Arkansas.

"As I read the Constitution, there is no constitutionally viable means for the Congress to overturn an election wherein the states have certified and sent their electors," Scott said in a statement. "Some of my colleagues believe they have found a path, and while our opinions differ, I do not doubt their good intentions to take steps towards stamping out voter fraud. Importantly, I disagree with their method both in principle and in practice."

The South Carolina Republican noted the high hurdle Republicans would have to mount in order for their objections to be sustained and a state's electoral votes invalidated: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats, which maintain a slim majority in the lower chamber, would have to join the challenges to electoral votes cast for Mr. Biden and reelect President Trump.

"That is not going to happen, not today or any other day," he said.

Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the Constitution is clear that the authority to conduct presidential elections is explicitly delegated to the states.

"My job on Wednesday is clear, and there are only two things I am permitted to do under the Constitution: ensure the electors are properly certified and count the electoral votes, even when I disagree with the outcome," the Oklahoma Republican said in a statement. "To challenge a state's certification, given how specific the Constitution is, would be a violation of my oath of office — that is not something I am willing to do and is not something Oklahomans would want me to do."

Moran, meanwhile, warned that objecting to the electoral process without the constitutional backing would "risk undermining our democracy."

"The Constitution clearly limits the role of Congress with respect to presidential elections to the counting of electoral votes that have been certified by the states. The states, consistent with the principles of federalism and a limited national government, possess the sole authority to determine and submit their electors," he said in a statement published by The Mercury, a Kansas newspaper. "To vote to reject these state-certified electoral votes would be to act outside the bounds of the Constitution, which I will not do."

Boozman, of Arkansas, said in a statement that he "intend[s] to support the decision of the Electoral College."

"We cannot erode the ideals that generations of Americans have fought to protect simply because we do not like the outcome of the election. We owe it to them and to future generations to uphold the values and principles that have made the United States the great nation it is," Boozman said. "Abandoning them during moments of crisis or turmoil will only diminish the will of the people, greatly expand the control of the federal government and establish a precedent that damages the rule of law and destabilizes our elections system."

Just over a dozen Republican senators have said they plan to object to the counting of electoral votes from several states won by Mr. Biden because of alleged election irregularities, nearly all of which have been dismissed by the courts. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri has raised issues with the votes from Pennsylvania, while a source familiar with the efforts confirmed to CBS News that Senator Ted Cruz of Texas plans to object to Arizona's Electoral College votes.

The Constitution requires Congress to come together for a joint session to tally the Electoral College votes from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. While the meeting is typically a formality and perfunctory, Mr. Trump is using the joint session to make his last stand and looking to Congress to overturn the results of the election.

But the effort will be futile. Federal law allows for written objections to a state's electoral votes to be made, but each must be supported by at least one member of the House and one member of the Senate. Scores of House Republicans are expected to raise objections to electoral votes from battleground states, but beyond challenges to the results from Pennsylvania and Arizona, it's unclear whether they will be joined by a GOP senator.

Additionally, a simple majority of each chamber must vote to uphold an objection. Because Democrats control the House, it's highly unlikely the lower chamber will sustain any objection to states' electoral votes cast for Mr. Biden.

Alan He and John Nolen contributed to this report.

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