PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Wednesday in Washington, some Republican lawmakers plan to challenge the votes of the electoral college. That’s despite no evidence of widespread fraud that would affect the win for President-elect Joe Biden.
A Drexel University professor of politics tells Eyewitness News Republicans seem to be using this moment as a loyalty test to President Donald Trump and his base. He called the situation “a real crisis” for the respect of democracy.
He also said only voters can decide who is president.
“That basically goes counter to the whole concept of elections. The notion is that the people decide these things, not the vice president independently, and also not Congress. Congress is supposed to simply certify the votes that have already been certified by the 50 states,” Dr. Bill Rosenberg said.
Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey has said he will vote to certify the electoral college count on Wednesday.
Trump’s next big stand comes Wednesday, when some Republicans in the House and Senate plan to protest President-elect Joe Biden’s win as Congress formally ratifies his victory, and thousands of Trump supporters will descend on the Capitol for a march.
But that show of protest faces its own challenges as even some of Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill have dismissed the move. Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, a longtime Trump supporter who may seek the White House in 2024, said in a statement that he would reject the gambit because it would “establish unwise precedents.”
“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.
Indeed, by avoiding engaging with Trump, Biden is also hoping to maintain the opportunity for bipartisanship in the new Congress, which he’s repeatedly emphasized will be key to his hopes of getting anything done. Going after Trump too aggressively could further politicize his presidency before it even begins.
But some Democrats warn that there are risks to staying above the fray.
Jim Manley, a former longtime Senate Democratic leadership aide, said the party’s failure to take on Trump’s recent moves could set the tone for Biden’s presidency and beyond.
“The risk is that it affirms for not only future presidents, but also Republicans in the House and the Senate, that there are no consequences for breaking the rules,” he said. “The fear is that doing nothing will embolden Republicans, some of whom were teetering on the edge of sedition to ramp up their efforts to undermine Biden’s presidency.”
Trump has indicated he has no plans to go away quietly, floating a possible 2024 run, blanketing social media with incendiary posts and threatening Republicans who break with his complaints about the election results. He’s certain to continue to marshal his sizable base in support of his post-presidential plans — or in opposition to Biden’s.
And while Democrats on Capitol Hill publicly emphasize the need to stay focused on Biden’s proposals, they privately express concerns about the tone they say Republicans are setting for the Biden presidency by protesting the certification of his win.
According to Democratic strategist Andrew Feldman, the prospect of continued obstruction from Republicans and complaints about the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency make it all the more important that Biden stay laser-focused on enacting his agenda even in the middle of the political din.
“The Republicans aren’t going to let up here. We’re going to be dealing with a narrative for the next four years about Biden being an illegitimate president,” he said. “We are going to have to combat that — not only with messaging, but with real results that help the American people.”
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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