There is predictable formality on Capitol Hill on Wednesday but this time with added drama. Regardless of what happens as Congress convenes for a joint session to tally electoral votes from states and the District of Columbia, President-elect Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. will be sworn in on Jan. 20.
Challenges from Republican lawmakers have made a mostly mundane process a point of contention. The sole purpose is for the legislative branch to officially count and certify the votes of the Electoral College, which has already elected Biden.
Yet, the process has left many Americans confused as to the motivations and possible results of Wednesday’s session since the proceedings are traditionally brief and ceremonial.
Members of Congress can raise objections to slates of electors, as long as at least one member of each chamber signs on. There would be a high bar to reject electors. Both the Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-controlled House would need to do so.
Republican objections in both chambers are expected, at least to results from Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri are among those who have signaled their plans, along with Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who on Tuesday lost her run-off race.
The objections are likely to create hours of delay and rally support among loyalists to President Donald Trump, whose challenges to the election have been mostly rejected in court. It is a near certainty that the effort will fail, even if Republicans get a narrow Senate victory, the challenges would undoubtedly fail in the Democratic-controlled House.
Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the session, though contrary to assertions by Trump, there is little he could do to change the outcome. Pence said in a letter to Congress on Wednesday that he had no “unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted.”
Trump’s efforts and comments against the certification have been viewed by many as a longshot effort to remain in office.
Many see the challenges as political theater and an effort to weaken a newly elected president and set the stage for the 2024 Republican primary.
The process may run as late as Thursday.
Republicans vs. Biden: What Is The Certification Of The 2020 Election And Does It Mean Anything For Trump? The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ International Business Times.