WASHINGTON, DC — As the U.S. House reconvened after being interrupted by protestors who breached the Capitol building Wednesday, it seemed the air had escaped the balloon for lawmakers to reject electors from key battleground states and delay Joe Biden’s election as the next U.S. president.
President Donald Trump and his supporters have argued for two months that the Nov. 3 presidential election was stolen using a wide variety of allegations of voting irregularities occurring in seven swing states.
The electors from two states were ultimately contested during the certification of the election of Democrats President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Wednesday night. The states were Arizona and Pennsylvania. Full debate ensued on both houses of congress over Arizona but the objection, led by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx.), failed by a wide margin in both houses. Into the early morning, as Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and over 40 representatives objected to Pennsylvania’s electors, the Senate dispatched the objection quickly and awaited the House that proceeded with about two hours of debates, consisting of speeches from Democrats wanting to deny the objections and some Republicans in favor of rejecting the electors.
The end goal of the objectors was to form an investigative committee to consume 10 days investigating voting irregularities in the questioned swing states before certifying those electors.
San Angelo’s Congressman August Pfluger (R, TX-11) kept his promise to constituents and voted to object to both Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s electors. He did not make a speech on the floor during the debates. Plainview’s Congressman Jodey Arrington (TX, CD-19) did make an impassioned speech on the floor arguing to reject the Pennsylvania electors based on widespread allegations of ballot irregularities.
The basis of the objection was made along the lines of the lawsuit the State of Texas filed against Pennsylvania and other swing states late last year — see U.S. Supreme Court, State of Texas v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, State of Georgia, State of Michigan, and State of Wisconsin. The argument was that since the swing states like Pennsylvania changed procedures for validating ballots, particularly how mail-in ballots were handled, the swing states allowed more opportunities for illegal votes, and those votes were cast, diluting the will of citizens in other states. These changes, the lawmakers argued last night as the Texas lawsuit also argued, were unconstitutional because the U.S. Constitution states that only state legislatures can write laws to administer state elections. These last minute changes to election procedures amid the pandemic leading up to election day were implemented by the governors or the state courts, not the state legislatures, the lawmakers argued.
This argument is a strict constitutionalist interpretation championed by conservative talk show host, constitutional attorney and author Mark Levin. The counter-argument is that the legislatures set forth general guidance and laws, but many of the changes brought forth this year amid the pandemic — mail-in voting procedures for example — are workflow or procedural issues, below the specific purview of the state legislatures.
In early December 2020, the Texas lawsuit was dismissed as the US Supreme Court justices determined that the State of Texas had no standing. The merits of the allegations raised in the lawsuit were never deliberated in court. Pfluger said earlier this week that his aim was to at least get some of those arguments presented and on the record in the House.
Pfluger argued, as did Arrington, that the matter was a constitutional argument and objecting to the electors was their sworn duty as defenders of the constitution.
In the end, the Pennsylvania objection also failed in the House. Afterwards, a joint session reconvened and the electoral college votes were certified granting that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, president and vice president respectfully, will be sworn in on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021.