Electoral College Vote Certified in Tumultuous Week on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON — Sen. Richard Shelby, a Republican, and Rep. Terri Sewell, a Democrat, were the only two of Alabama’s congressmen who voted last week to accept presidential election results certified by the states of Arizona and Pennsylvania.

But Electoral College votes eventually were certified and President-elect Joe Biden was declared winner of the election.

Opponents of accepting, or certifying, the votes said Congress should appoint a commission to audit the 2020 presidential balloting in Arizona and five other states Biden narrowly carried.

The votes occurred the night an armed mob of Trump supporters streamed through the Capitol, destroying property, defiling historical spaces and forcing lawmakers to shelter in place for extended periods, many behind barricaded doors.

Commenting after the Capitol had been pacified, Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said: “What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States. Those who choose to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate democratic election will forever be seen as … complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy. Fairly or not, they’ll be remembered for their role in this shameful episode in American history. That will be their legacy.”

House Debate on Arizona Votes

The House voted 121 for and 303 against a bid to reject Arizona’s 11 electoral votes won by Biden. The objection was sponsored by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Nearly 60 percent of Republicans who voted supported the objection, while Democrats voted unanimously against it.

Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said that in several states, Democrats “changed the election rules … in an unconstitutional fashion. … The Constitution is clear … only state legislatures set election law. In Arizona, the law says voter registration ends on Oct. 5. Democrats said we don’t care what the law says. They went to a court, got an Obama-appointed judge to extend it 18 days. No debate, no discussion … . They did an end run around the Constitution in every state that Republicans will object to today… . It was a pattern, it was their template, they did it in (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Wisconsin) and yet some of our members say you shouldn’t do anything about it, just let it go.”

Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said: “The 2020 election is over and the people have spoken … . The president has not just had his day in court, he’s had more than two months in court looking for a judge to embrace these arguments. More than 50 cases. At least 88 different judges, including many appointed by the president himself, have meticulously rejected the president’s claim of fraud and corruption … . The plaintiffs have lost every case on every issue on the most sweeping terms. There is no basis in fact or law to justify the unprecedented relief being requested in nullifying these elections. We are here to count the votes, let us do our job.”

House Debate on Pennsylvania Votes

The House voted 138 for and 282 against a bid to deny certification of Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes won by Biden. About 68 percent of Republicans who voted backed the move. All Democrats who voted opposed it. The challenge was lodged by Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.

Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said several states “did not follow the constitutional requirement for selecting electors … . Nowhere in Article 2, Section 1 does it give the secretary of state of a state that ability. Nowhere does it give the governor that ability. It exclusively gives that ability to the legislatures … . We’ve seen over and over again states where the Democrat Party has … selectively gone around this process … . So President Trump has stood up to it … . Over 100 of my colleagues asked the Supreme Court to address this problem just a few weeks ago, and unfortunately, the court chose to punt … . We don’t have that luxury today. We have … to restore integrity to the election process, which has been lost by so many millions of Americans.”

Conor Lamb, D-Pa., said: “These objections don’t deserve an ounce of respect … . A woman died out there (in the Capitol) tonight and you’re making these objections. Let’s be clear about what happened in this chamber today. Invaders came in for the first time since the War of 1812. They desecrated these halls and this chamber and practically every inch of ground where we work … . Enough has been done here today already to try to strip this Congress of its dignity, and these objectors don’t need to do any more. We know that that attack today didn’t materialize out of nowhere. It was inspired by lies, the same lies that you’re hearing in this room tonight, and the members who are repeating those lies should be ashamed of themselves and their constituents should be ashamed of them.”

Alabama House votes on both challenges:

Voting yes: Jerry Carl, R-1, Barry Moore, R-2, Mike Rogers, R-3, Robert Aderholt, R-4, Mo Brooks, R-5, Gary Palmer, R-6.

Voting no: Terri Sewell, D-7

Not voting: None

Senate Debate on Arizona Votes

The Senate voted six for and 93 against a bid to deny certification of Arizona’s 11 electoral votes.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a sponsor of the objection, said: “I want to speak to the Republicans who are considering voting against these objections. I understand your concerns. But I urge you to pause and think, what does it say to nearly half the country that believes this election was rigged if we vote not even to consider the claims of illegality and fraud in this election? … I’m not arguing for setting aside this election” but to have it scrutinized  by a congressionally appointed commission.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said: “The Constitution gives us here in Congress a limited role. We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids. The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our Republic forever … . If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral … . Every four years would be a scramble for power at any cost.”

Senate Debate on Pennsylvania’s Votes

The Senate voted seven for and 92 against a challenge to the certification of Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes for Biden.

The objection was raised by Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri, along with Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa.

There was no debate on the Pennsylvania challenge. However, Hawley said earlier that Congress was the place to resolve electoral disputes. “In Pennsylvania, quite apart from allegations of any fraud, you have a state constitution that has been interpreted for over a century to say there is no mail-in balloting permitted except for in very narrow circumstances, and yet last year, (state) elected officials passed a whole new law that allows universal mail-in balloting and then when Pennsylvania citizens tried to be heard … before the (state) Supreme Court, they were dismissed on grounds of procedure and timeliness in violation of that court’s own precedents.”

Alabama Senate votes on both sides:

Voting yes: Tommy Tuberville, R

Voting no: Richard Shelby, R

Not voting: None

Not voting: None

Alabama Senate votes on both challenges:

Voting yes: Tommy Tuberville, R

Voting no: Richard Shelby, R 

Not voting: None

House Vote on Adopting 117th House Rules:

Voting 217 for and 206 against, the House on Jan. 4 adopted rules to govern its operations during the 117th Congress. The package (H Res 8) was added to a body of standing rules that has controlled House proceedings since the 1st Congress in 1789. The new rules would require committees to disclose “truth in testimony” information in real time about witnesses at hearings. This would inform members and the public – before and during the sessions – about any financial or fiduciary interest witnesses have in the topic under discussion. In addition, the rules would:

  • Allow investigative committees to immediately issue or re-issue subpoenas to former presidents, vice presidents and White House staff in their personal or professional capacities;
  • Establish a select committee on economic disparity, reauthorize select committees on climate, Covid-19 and the modernization of Congress and make permanent an office protecting whistleblowers against retaliation by their congressional superiors;
  • Require an ethics rule to prohibit members from circulating by electronic means any “deep fake” video, audio file or image “that has been distorted or manipulated with the intent to mislead the public;”
  • Allow members to vote remotely, by proxy, on the House floor and permit committees to conduct business by video links;
  • Promote transparency in government by broadening the availability of House documents in machine-readable formats and expanding public digital access to committee witness disclosure forms and voting records on amendments and markups;
  • Give permanent status a diversity office and require committees to state plans for addressing inequities in areas including gender, race and sexual orientation;
  • Weaken the role of the “motion to recommit” in enabling the minority party to force votes and shape legislation at the close of floor debates and prohibit debate on such motions;
  • Require the House’s official terminology to be gender-neutral;
  • Deny access to the House floor to former members convicted of crimes related to their congressional service or election and grant floor privileges to the District of Columbia mayor;
  • Bar access by registered lobbyists and foreign agents to recreational areas where members work out;
  • Exempt bills combatting the climate crisis or the spread of Covid-19 from “pay as you go” budget rules;
  • Require members to personally cover the cost of settlements paid to resolve staff members’ charges of misconduct including sexual harassment and discrimination;
  • Make permanent a requirement that bills considered by the Rules Committee for floor consideration must first receive a committee hearing and markup;
  • Allow the majority party to “deem” that a congressional budget resolution has been adopted, rather than adopt one.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., said the rules “exempt climate legislation from budgetary restrictions, clearing the way for ambitious federal investments to combat climate change.”

Tom Cole. R-Okla., said “this package stinks. It is deeply cynical and deeply short-sighted. It tramples on minority rights and it ensures a power grab by Democratic leadership.”

A yes vote was to adopt the rules package.


Voting yes: Sewell 

Voting no: Carl, Moore, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer

Not voting: None

Key Votes Ahead

The House may take up a resolution to impeach President Trump in the week of Jan. 11, while the Senate will be in recess.