WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona led a group of 67 Republicans in objecting to President-elect Joe Biden’s win as Congress begins certifying the Electoral College results Wednesday.
The objection was the first of several attempts to overturn the will of voters that are expected during the session at President Donald Trump's behest, though none will succeed. Each objection will trigger a two-hour debate and a subsequent vote in the House and the Senate. The objections will not change the outcome of the election, which President-elect Joe Biden won in November.
Gosar’s objection was particularly notable, as he and other Republicans have baselessly claimed that there were fraudulent votes cast that changed the outcome of the election. But Gosar himself was reelected in Arizona, and Republicans have claimed, illogically, that only Trump was affected, despite down-ballot Republicans like Gosar having been more successful than many had expected during the 2020 election.
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“I rise for myself and 60 of my colleagues to object to the counting of the electoral ballots from Arizona,” Gosar said, having pulled his mask down and exposing his mouth and nose. The comment prompted many House Republicans to stand and applaud, though fewer Republican senators did so, according to reporters in the room.
The debate was halted, however, when a group of Trump supporters staged an attempted coup and broke police barriers and stormed the Capitol. Members of the House and Senate were evacuated and the building was locked down. As of just after 6:00 p.m., lawmakers were still being held in a secure, undisclosed location. Leaders said they planned to finish the certification process Wednesday despite the interruption in defiance of the riots.
At the beginning of the Senate debate on the election results from Arizona, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reprimanded his Republican colleagues for objecting, saying that the votes cast electing Joe Biden as president have been proven legitimate by the courts and that Republicans were attempting to overturn the will of the American people.
“I’ve served 36 years in the Senate. This will be the most important vote I’ve ever cast,” McConnell said, calling a vote against certifying the results would be “unfair and wrong” and would “disenfranchise American voters and overrule the courts and the states.”
McConnell concluded his speech by stating warning his colleagues that a vote against certification will not be “a harmless protest gesture while relying on others to do the right thing.” A vote against certification would create a dangerous precedent, the Majority Leader said, that would hasten the country “down a poisonous path where only the winners of an election actually accept the results.”
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed with McConnell and condemned Republicans for their actions.
Just moments before the joint session convened, Vice President Mike Pence, who is overseeing the session in his role as president of the Senate, released a statement saying he is not able to throw out votes that Trump has claimed are fraudulent, though the president has repeatedly asked him to do so, including at a MAGA rally in Washington just before the vote began.
“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,” Pence’s statement read, adding that his role was largely ceremonial, defying the president’s wishes.
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Trump himself was speaking to a crowd of supporters gathered in DC when the statement was released. He did not appear to be aware that his vice president had contradicted him. “I hope Mike does what he has to do. And I hope he doesn’t listen to the RINOs and the stupid people,” he said as the congressional session began.
According to Capitol Hill reporters, some Democrats booed and groaned when Cruz rose to object to certifying Arizona’s votes, and Cruz could be seen fist-bumping members of the Arizona delegation following his objection. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was seen sanitizing her gavel after Pence finished speaking.
Cruz defended his objection on the Senate floor, calling on more Republican senators to join him. “I understand your concerns, but I urge you to pause and think. What does it say to the nearly half of the country that believes this election was rigged if we vote not even to consider the claims of illegality and fraud in this election?”
Cruz argued that he wasn’t trying to overturn the election results, saying his goal is to get Congress to “appoint an electoral commission to conduct a ten-day emergency audit” of the election.
Here are all 67 Republicans who voted to overturn the election results:
Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas
Sen. Mike Braun, Indiana
Sen. John Kennedy, Louisiana
Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin
Sen. Steve Daines, Montana
Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee
Sen. Bill Haggerty, Tennessee
Rep. Paul Gosar, Arizona
Rep. Randy Weber, Oklahoma
Rep. Mo Brooks, Alabama
Rep. Andy Biggs, Arizona
Rep. Jim Jordan, Ohio
Rep. Madison Cawthorn, North Carolina
Rep. Scott Perry, Pennsylvania
Rep. Mike Kelly, Pennsylvania
Rep. Burgess Owens, Utah
Rep. John Rose, Tennessee
Rep. Bill Posey, Florida
Rep. Jeff Duncan, South Carolina
Rep. Brain Babin, Texas
Rep. Louie Gohmert, Texas
Rep. Brian Mast, Florida
Rep. Warren Davidson, Ohio
Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland
Rep. Steven Palazzo, Mississippi
Rep. Doug Lamborn, Colorado
Rep. Kat Cammack, Florida
Rep. Tracey Mann, Kansas
Rep. Bob Good, Virginia
Rep. Adrian Smith, Nebraska
Rep. Billy Long, Missouri
Rep. Jack Bergman, Michigan
Rep. Michael Cloud, Texas
Rep. Rick Crawford, Arkansas
Rep. Roger Williams, Texas
Rep. Bob Gibbs, Ohio
Rep. Russ Fulcher, Idaho
Rep. Ted Budd, North Carolina
Rep. Barry Moore, Alabama
Rep. Lee Zeldin, New York
Rep. Jake LaTurner, Kansas
Rep. David Rouzer, North Carolina
Rep. Jason Smith, Missouri
Rep. Lauren Boebert, Colorado
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, Tennessee
Rep. Tim Burchett, Tennessee
Rep. Chris Jacobs, New York
Rep. Andrew Clyde, Georgia
Rep. Lance Gooden, Texas
Rep. Diana Harshbarger, Tennessee
Rep. Mary Miller, Illinois
Rep. Mark Green, Tennessee
Rep. Ron Estes, Kansas
Rep. Neal Dunn, Florida
Rep. Ronny Jackson, Texas
Rep. Ralph Norman, South Carolina
Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, Missouri
Rep. Scott Des Jarlais, Tennessee
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia
Rep. Doug LaMalfa, California
Rep. Ben Cline, Virginia
Rep. Michael Rogers, Alabama
Rep. Markwayne Mullin, Oklahoma
Rep. Pat Fallon, Texas
Rep. Jeff Duncan, South Carolina
This story has been updated to reflect that 67 Republicans objected to the Arizona election results; Rep. Brian Babin of Texas signed the objection for himself twice.
Doug LaMalfa is a representative for California. An earlier version of this post misstated the state he represents.