Josh Hawley becomes first senator to declare he'll object to Biden's electoral votes

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Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri became the first senator on Wednesday to announce that he’ll object to President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s electoral votes in Congress on Jan. 6.

“I cannot vote to certify the electoral college results on Jan. 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, follow failed to follow their own state election laws,” Mr. Hawley said in a statement. “And I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega-corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in the election in support of Joe Biden.”

A group of House Republicans have been seeking at least one Senate sponsor for their plan to object to Mr. Biden’s presidential electors from swing states contested by President Trump. Without a senator to object, their effort would be certain to fail.

Mr. Hawley said 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,” he said. “For these reasons, I will follow the same practice Democrat members of Congress have in years past and object during the certification process on Jan. 6 to raise these critical issues.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders have discouraged GOP senators from attempting to block Mr. Biden’s electoral votes, saying such a move is doomed to failure.

Rep. Mo Brooks, Alabama Republican, is leading an effort in the House to block Congress from certifying Mr. Biden’s electoral votes from a half-dozen battleground states on Jan. 6. The president is promoting the effort, and held a lengthy strategy session with GOP lawmakers at the White House last week.

The vote in Congress is the final mandated step in the election process before Inauguration Day on Jan. 20. Normally, it’s a routine event in which lawmakers in the House and Senate vote to accept each state’s slate of presidential electors.

Several House Democrats objected to Mr. Trump’s electoral votes in January 2017, as Mr. Hawley noted. But their effort died in the House because no senator agreed to object.

Sen.-elect Tommy Tuberville, Alabama Republican, also has suggested that he would object to Mr. Biden’s votes. But he hasn’t confirmed his intentions definitively.

If lawmakers object to a state’s presidential electors, the House and Senate must debate the matter and then vote in each chamber on whether to accept that state’s electoral votes. The House and Senate would need to agree to reject a state’s votes.

Mr. Biden won the election with 306 electoral votes to Mr. Trump’s 232. If certain state’s electoral votes weren’t accepted by Congress and neither candidate had the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, the election would be thrown into the Democratic-led House to decide.

The process of objecting to Mr. Biden’s votes essentially will create a loyalty test for GOP lawmakers over Mr. Trump. And a vote against the president could risk creating primary challenges in 2022 for incumbent Republicans such as Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, John Thune of South Dakota, James Lankford of Oklahoma, and Roy Blunt of Missouri.

Mr. Hawley said on Twitter, “Millions of voters concerned about election integrity deserve to be heard. I will object on January 6 on their behalf.”

The president, who is spending the holidays at his Mar-a-Lago resort in southern Florida, continued to push his claims of election fraud Wednesday.

“The Presidential Election was Rigged with hundreds of thousands of ballots mysteriously flowing into Swing States very late at night as everyone thought the election was easily won by me,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “There were many other acts of fraud and irregularities as well. STAY TUNED!”

The president also is encouraging his supporters to descend on Washington on Jan. 6.

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