A Senate Divided: Senators Romney, Murkowski, Toomey Voice Opposition to Their Republican Colleagues’ Efforts to Fight Vote Certification

Sen. Mitt Romney

Photo credit: Zach Gibson, Getty Images

When the joint session of Congress meets on January 6th to certify the Electoral College votes, several congressional Republicans plan to object, but their views are not shared by all their partisan colleagues. On Saturday, several key GOP Senators — including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) — voiced their opposition to the efforts to block the certification of the votes showing President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) was the first senator to say he would object to the Electoral College vote certification. He was joined by eleven others including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who issued a statement threatening to vote to reject the certification unless certain demands were met regarding investigating claims of voter fraud. An additional 140 House Republicans are expected to join their efforts.

Vice President Mike Pence, whose job duties include presiding over the joint session that will certify the votes, offered a nod of approval for these Republicans’ efforts to thwart the results of the election, issuing a statement on Saturday through his chief of staff that he “welcomes their efforts.”

Romney slammed the plan as an “egregious ploy” to “enhance the political ambition” of those involved, and also “dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic.”

In a longer statement posted on his official Senate website, Romney explained that the “congressional power to reject electors is reserved for the most extreme and unusual circumstances,” but the current situation was “far from it.”

Noting that Trump’s lawyers had “made their case before scores of courts,” but “in every instance, they failed,” and both the Justice Department and Presidential Voter Fraud Commission had been unable to find evidence that would overturn the election, Romney slammed the claims by Cruz and others that they seek to “restore trust” in the election as “nonsense.”

“Members of Congress who would substitute their own partisan judgement for that of the courts do not enhance public trust, they imperil it,” continued Romney. “Adding to this ill-conceived endeavor by some in Congress is the President’s call for his supporters to come to the Capitol on the day when this matter is to be debated and decided. This has the predictable potential to lead to disruption, and worse.”

“I could never have imagined seeing these things in the greatest democracy in the world. Has ambition so eclipsed principle?” Romney concluded.

Toomey concurred with his Utahn colleague, posting a thread on Twitter saying that the effort to fight the vote certification “directly undermines” the right of the American people to elect their own leaders.

“[A]llegations of fraud by a losing campaign cannot justify overturning an election,” Toomey continued, noting the repeated failure of these allegations to survive in any court. There might have been “irregularities,” he wrote, “But the evidence is overwhelming that Joe Biden won this election,” noting that Trump’s loss in Pennsylvania was explained by logical facts, not conspiracies or fraud.

Toomey wrapped by saying that he supported and voted for Trump, but on January 6th, he “intend[s] to vigorously defend our form of government by opposing this effort to disenfranchise millions of voters in my state and others.”

Murkowski also posted a short statement on her Twitter account, explaining that she had sworn an oath “to support and defend the Constitution,” and would continue to do that on January 6, by voting to affirm the 2020 presidential election. Murkowski noted that courts and state legislatures had heard the allegations of voter fraud but “found nothing to warrant overturning the results.”

“I urge my colleagues from both parties to recognize this and to join me in maintaining confidence in the Electoral College and our elections so that we ensure we have the continued trust of the American people,” Murkowski concluded.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), who chose not to run for re-election and whose term will end when the new Congress is sworn in on January 3, also took to Twitter to voice his concerns. Hurd, a former undercover CIA operative, criticized the efforts of the senators as “sow[ing] doubt amongst the public for petty political gain” that was “playing into our enemies hands.”

“Americans can see right through this,” wrote Hurd. “[A]ttempting to invalidate tens of millions of Americans’ votes by a select few elected officials in Washington, D.C. is not the path forward for our party and it does nothing to unite Americans around solving the real challenges we are facing.”

UPDATE 9:30 pm: Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), another Republican who joined Hurd in choosing not to run for re-election, also tweeted his criticism of the Republicans trying to fight the vote certification as an attempt to “substitute their own determination for those of the states” and therefore a rejection of “a basic tenet of our system.”

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]