Trump-supporting Sens. Tom Cotton, Mike Lee say Congress has no authority to reject Electoral College vote

by Peter Heck · Jan 5th, 2021 11:11 am
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Last Updated Jan 5th, 2021 at 4:03 pm

Two well-known, conservative lawmakers have come out against the Republican plan to object to the Electoral College vote for Joe Biden as president. Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) have both said they will not participate in a planned objection by numerous Republican members of Congress during Wednesday's official certification of the vote.

In a statement released Sunday, Cotton said that while he shared concerns over voting irregularities and disappointment in the outcome, it is clear that the Constitution does not empower Congress to overturn election results.

"The Founders entrusted our elections chiefly to the states — not Congress," the Arkansas senator said. "They entrusted the election of our president to the people, acting through the Electoral College — not Congress. And they entrusted the adjudication of election disputes to the courts — not Congress. Under the Constitution and federal law, Congress's power is limited to counting electoral votes submitted by the states."

Cotton also warned of the precedents Republicans would set by purporting to overturn the Electoral College vote.

"First, Congress would take away the power to choose the president from the people, which would essentially end presidential elections and place that power in the hands of whichever party controls Congress," Cotton said. "Second, Congress would imperil the Electoral College, which gives small states like Arkansas a voice in presidential elections. Democrats could achieve their longstanding goal of eliminating the Electoral College in effect by refusing to count electoral votes in the future for a Republican president-elect. Third, Congress would take another big step toward federalizing election law, another longstanding Democratic priority that Republicans have consistently opposed."

Similarly, Lee, who worked to defend President Trump during his impeachment trial, said Congress has "no authority" to attempt to undo what the states have done.

"With respect to presidential elections, there is no authority for Congress to make value judgments in the abstract regarding any state's election laws or the manner in which they have been implemented," Lee wrote.

The two statements indicate that there will be a fierce intra-party battle on Wednesday when the Congress convenes to certify the vote.


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