- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 15, 2020

A last-gasp effort by some House Republicans to block President-elect Joseph R. Biden from taking office next month could be on its last legs.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Republican senators Tuesday not to object to the election results when Congress meets on Jan. 6 to vote on accepting each state’s slate of presidential electors.

Without any senators to go along with the House, the pro-Trump effort would fall flat.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito confirmed a Politico report that Mr. McConnell told senators in a private call that objecting to the election results would force Republicans to take a “terrible vote.”

“There was encouragement on the phone for us to accept the result, as much as it’s not what we would have envisioned for the next four years, and to try to do what’s best for American people, which is to look forward,” she told reporters.

Mr. McConnell told Republicans that they would need to vote down any objection to Mr. Biden’s victory — a vote that would inevitably appear, to some, as if Republican senators were voting against President Trump. He urged his colleagues not to go down that road.

“There wasn’t any pushback to it,” Mrs. Moore Capito said of Mr. McConnell’s advice. “That would be what I’m certainly in favor of — to join together and look forward and accept the results of the Electoral College.”

The GOP conference call came a day after the Electoral College certified Mr. Biden as the winner in its mandated voting nationwide.

At the White House, press secretary Kayleigh McEnany wouldn’t say whether Mr. Trump now accepts that Mr. Biden is president-elect. The Trump campaign sent out at least five fundraising emails in the day after the Electoral College’s voting.

“The president is still involved in ongoing litigation related to the election,” she said, calling the Electoral College vote “one step in the constitutional process.”

A member of Senate GOP leadership, Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, said Tuesday he’s not aware of any Republican senators who will join some House Republicans in objecting to Mr. Biden’s vote totals next month.

If all Senate Republicans fall in line with Mr. McConnell, it would doom a plan by Rep. Mo Brooks, Alabama Republican, and others to reject Mr. Biden’s electoral votes from battleground states where Republicans have alleged widespread election fraud.

Other members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus are believed to be preparing objections to the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“I can either sit back and surrender and be a part of the surrender caucus, or I can fight for our country,” Mr. Brooks said on Fox Business Network on Monday night. “And that’s what I’m going to do. So on January 6, I’m going to object to the submissions of Electoral College votes from various states that, in my judgment, have such flawed election systems that their vote counts are unworthy of our ratification in the United States Congress. What I need is a United States senator who will join me.”

Mr. Brooks and his colleagues would need a sponsor in the Senate to object simultaneously to a state’s slate of pro-Biden electors. If a senator does object, the House and Senate then would debate the state’s election results for up to two hours, then vote on whether to count Mr. Biden’s electors from that state.

The Democratic-led House and the Republican-led Senate would need to agree for Congress to reject a state’s electoral votes.

If Congress determines that no candidate has the required 270 electoral votes to become president, the 12th Amendment directs the House to vote to elect the next president.

But Mr. Brooks’ plan, encouraged again by Mr. Trump on social media Tuesday, won’t go anywhere if he lacks a sponsor in the Senate. Several House Democrats objected to Mr. Trump’s electoral votes in January 2017, but their efforts failed for lack of a senator to agree with them.

Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, said Tuesday he’s not planning to object to Mr. Biden’s votes, despite saying earlier that he was open to doing so.

“I haven’t seen anything that would convince me that the results — the overall national result — would be overturned,” Mr. Johnson told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Something would have to surface that would call into question the legitimacy of the election.”

Sen. Ron Paul, Kentucky Republican, also has said he is open to raising objections to Mr. Biden’s votes. House Republicans also reportedly have sounded out GOP Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri and Kelly Loeffler of Georgia.

Former Rep. Charlie Dent, Pennsylvania Republican, said Tuesday he expects some House GOP lawmakers to pursue their effort but he believes it will fail.

“There will be a little bit of drama, but the outcome will still be the same,” Mr. Dent said on CNN.

Gabriella Muñoz contributed to this report.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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