WASHINGTON — The final step in a turmoil-filled 2020 presidential election is set for Wednesday, when Congress will certify election results showing that Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump.
But a series of objections from GOP legislators is expected to stretch that routine process into a much lengthier one — and one that is dividing the Republican Party between those who back Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud and those who do not. Those claims have failed repeatedly in dozens of lawsuits brought by Trump’s legal team.
At least 12 GOP senators and dozens of House Republicans say they intend to object to the Electoral College results as those votes are read, state by state, in a joint session that begins at 1 p.m. ET Wednesday. One of those Senators, Steve Daines, is the junior member of from Montana and a Republican.
Matt Rosendale, who was sworn into the House of Representatives on Sunday as Montana’s lone Congressman, has announced plans that he will join the effort to challenge the results.
It’s not yet clear exactly how Wednesday’s process will unfold, but Republicans could raise objections to the results from as many as six swing states: Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Nevada.
Not all Republican lawmakers have embraced Trump’s refusal to accept the election results. A dozen House Republicans are pushing back, arguing that Congress has a narrow role in elections and that states are responsible for selecting electors to certify votes.
“To take action otherwise— that is, to unconstitutionally insert Congress into the center of the presidential election process —would amount to stealing power from the people and the states,” lawmakers wrote in a letter, obtained by the publication Punchbowl, to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Sunday.
Republicans signing that letter include Ken Buck of Colorado, Ann Wagner of Missouri, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Ashley Hinson of Iowa and Pete Meijer of Michigan, among others.
“It would, in effect, replace the electoral college with Congress, and in so doing strengthen the efforts of those on the left who are determined to eliminate it or render it irrelevant,” they wrote.
Raising a formal objection to the Electoral College results requires a written document signed by at least one member of the House and one senator. A recognized objection prompts two hours of debate in each chamber, followed by a vote.
While the process may drag out, possibly even into Thursday, those objections are unlikely to change the outcome, with both the Democratic-controlled House and Republican-controlled Senate expected to defeat the challenges.
As that debate plays out inside the Capitol, potentially violent protests are expected in downtown Washington, where militia groups and members of the extremist group the Proud Boys are already gathering to show support for Trump.