A group of 11 Republican senators and senators-elect announced Saturday that they will object to certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College win on Jan. 6.
Sens. Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, James Lankford, Steve Daines, John Kennedy, Marsha Blackburn, and Mike Braun, as well as and Sens.-elect Cynthia Lummis, Roger Marshall, Bill Hagerty, and Tommy Tuberville, said in a statement that they are demanding a 10-day audit of the results by an electoral commission.
“We are acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it,” they said, citing distrust in the 2020 election results that Trump and his allies have actively fostered.
The group effort appears to be separate from one started by GOP Sen. Josh Hawley, who announced last week that he will oppose the congressional certification of the election results.
While their opposition will not change the election results, it will drag out the certification vote and likely further deepen partisan divisions.
Trump praised the senators’ efforts, claiming in a tweet that more Republicans will do the same “after they see the facts” and that “Our Country will love them for it!”
However, Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, a state whose results Trump repeatedly tried and failed to overturn, rebuked his colleagues Saturday.
“A fundamental, defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of the people to elect their own leaders. The effort by Sens. Hawley, Cruz, and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in swing states like Pennsylvania directly undermines this right,” he said in a statement.
“[A]llegations of fraud by a losing campaign cannot justify overturning an election,” he added. “I voted for President Trump and endorsed him for re-election. But, on Wednesday, I intend to vigorously defend our form of government by opposing this effort to disenfranchise millions of voters in my state and others.”
Sen. Ben Sasse also criticized his fellow Republicans’ efforts to overturn the election results in a lengthy Facebook post the day Hawley released his statement.
“When we talk in private, I haven’t heard a single Congressional Republican allege that the election results were fraudulent – not one. Instead, I hear them talk about their worries about how they will ‘look’ to President Trump’s most ardent supporters,” Sasse wrote. “Let’s be clear what is happening here: We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage. But they’re wrong – and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions.”
Both Hawley and Cruz are often considered possible 2024 presidential contenders.
The president and his campaign have repeatedly attributed his election loss to a baseless nationwide voter fraud conspiracy, offering up claims that have not held up to scrutiny. Multiple courts, including the Supreme Court, have struck down the campaign’s legal efforts to dispute the results.
The statement on Saturday cited the Trump campaign’s many failed court challenges, and the senators said the congressional vote on Jan. 6 is the “lone constitutional power remaining to consider and force resolution of the multiple allegations of serious voter fraud.”
If a House member and a senator object to the results in a state, both chambers take the matter to a debate and vote on whether to uphold the challenge.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had been trying to prevent such a vote from happening, fearing that it would force Republicans to make unpopular votes against Trump that primary challengers could use against them in the next election.