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Hawley To Object To Electoral College Results — But Blunt Won’t Join Him

Attorney General Josh Hawley speaks during a Oct. 2018 televised senatorial debate.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley speaks during a October 2018 televised senatorial debate. Hawley announced on Wednesday that he's objecting to Electoral College results in January.

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley announced on Wednesday that he will object to the Electoral College results next month, a move that ensures that his GOP colleagues will have to go on record about the effort to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Citing his role in the joint session of Congress that will count electoral votes, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt said he won’t be joining his fellow Missourian in objecting.

Biden won last month’s presidential election when he secured 306 electoral votes, more than the 270 needed to win. Congress counts those votes in a ceremony that’s set to take place on Jan. 6.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Hawley noted that Democrats objected to the results of the 2004 and 2016 presidential elections that Republicans won. He added that “now those of us concerned about the integrity of this election are entitled to do the same.”

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

Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes. Efforts by Trump and his allies to challenge that state’s results have repeatedly failed, as have lawsuits in states including Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Since an objection to a state’s electoral results requires buy-in from a House member and a senator, Hawley’s move guarantees that both chambers will have to debate and vote on whether to sustain Biden’s victory. The effort to reject it is almost certain to fail. Not only will Democrats control the House on Jan. 6, but a number of GOP senators have acknowledged Biden’s win.

In fact, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who acknowledged Biden’s victory earlier this month,reportedly warned his colleagues against challenging Electoral College results. The Associated Press reported that McConnell said such a move would prompt a “terrible vote” for GOP senators, who have to choose between supporting Trump and going against him.

The last time at least one member of the House and Senate objected to the Electoral College results was 2004. That’s when Democrats unsuccessfully objected to Ohio’s electoral votes. A bid from some House Democrats to challenge electoral votes in 2016 faltered because a senator didn’t sign on to the objection.

Analysis: Sen. Josh Hawley's Objection To President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College Win
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley has been making headlines — but even some people who supported his ambitions are wildly unhappy with his recent actions. UMSL political science professor Anita Manion delves into why Missouri’s junior senator is objecting to the certification of a Biden victory. Does he have any chance of succeeding?

Sen. Roy Blunt answers questions in a press conference on Friday about adding apprenticeships to diversify education opportunities in America. 2/21/2020
File photo / Kayla Drake
St. Louis Public Radio
Citing his responsibilities during the joint session of Congress to certify Electoral College results, Sen. Roy Blunt said he's not joining Hawley in any objection.

Reaction floods in

One of the senators who will not be joining Hawley in objecting to the election is Blunt, who earlier this month described Biden as president-elect. In a statement Blunt said: “I expect there to be a vigorous debate regarding any state where the electors are challenged by at least one House member and one Senator.”

“As one of the four Members of Congress required to participate in the joint session, I will not be joining in any objection,” Blunt said.

Hawley’s statement prompted a flood of reaction on social media. Some Republicans who back Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results praised Hawley. State Rep. Justin Hill, R-St. Charles County, said in a statement that “millions of Missourians, I included, are proud of Senator Hawley for taking a stand for our state and nation.”

But many others harshly criticized Hawley, including Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Kansas City. Cleaver said in a statement on Twitter that “while I do not know the Senator very well, the one thing I have heard most is that he is an exceptionally bright person.”

“That is why I am so confused about him assuming a position, with regard to the last election, which is contrary to the decisions made in nearly every court in the land by judges across the ideological spectrum,” Cleaver said. “I do not support the Senator’s opposition to what more than 50 separate judicial decisions found to be a free and fair election. I believe it is time for us to begin the healing that is so desperately needed in our country.”

Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Michael Butler said in a statement that “President-elect Joe Biden won a fair and free election, winning both the popular vote and the Electoral College.”

“It’s past time to stop with the malarkey and move forward with a peaceful transition of power,” Butler said. “Refusing to listen to the will of Americans and slowing this transition or refusing to work with the Biden transition team is dangerous and irresponsible.”

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.