WASHINGTON, United States (AFP)— A group of Republican senators led by veteran lawmaker Ted Cruz said Saturday they would not vote next week to certify Joe Biden’s election win — the latest last-ditch move to support Donald Trump’s efforts to undermine the vote.
The initiative, which appears certain to fail, flies in the face of rulings in dozens of courts, and the findings by officials in several key states, that there were no widespread voting problems.
The Republicans’ statement, signed by Cruz and six other current senators along with four senators-elect, asserts that “allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes.”
The group said that when Congress convenes in a joint session on Wednesday — for what normally would be a pro-forma certification of Biden’s victory — they will demand the creation of a special commission to conduct “an emergency 10-day audit” of the election results.
The statement says individual states could then convene special legislative sessions and potentially revise their vote totals.
The 11 signees join Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, who said earlier that he planned to raise objections on Wednesday.
A Republican member of the House of Representatives, Louie Gohmert, has also announced his plan to oppose certification, and more than 100 House Republicans reportedly will back his challenge.
Gohmert sought to further raise the stakes with a lawsuit that would have given Vice President Mike Pence — traditionally in a ceremonial role in Wednesday’s session — the power to overturn the election result.
Pence opposed that effort, and a federal judge in Texas on Friday rejected the suit.
The Hawley and Gohmert challenges will ensure that Congress must meet to hear the complaints.
The Congress sessions, sure to be contentious, will play out against a backdrop of pro-Trump rallies in Washington next week encouraged by the president himself.
As with Trump’s other attempts to reverse his election defeat, the latest political manoeuvrings appears doomed. Democrats control the House, and many Republicans are expected to vote Wednesday for certification.
The 11 senators conceded that most Democrats and “more than a few Republicans” would likely oppose their initiative.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has urged fellow Republicans to vote to certify and avoid a divisive political brawl, saying, “The Electoral College has spoken.”
Biden won in the all-important Electoral College by a vote of 306 to 232.
“This is cynical, anti-democratic posturing,” presidential historian Tim Naftali told CNN.
Cruz is considered a likely 2024 presidential candidate. Hawley is also said to be positioning himself for a 2024 run — and so is Pence.