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US Congress begins new session with election certification battle ahead


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The U.S. Congress begins a new session this week with attention focused on how lawmakers will act when the body has to certify the election results.

Congress will meet in a joint session on Wednesday to count the Electoral College votes. Electors in December voted Joe Biden as the next president with 306 votes compared to President Donald Trump’s 232 votes.

Trump has not conceded the election and instead continued to push claims of election fraud without credible evidence.

Republican lawmakers are attempting to change the outcome; two Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives told CNN at least 140 members will oppose counting the votes.

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley last week stated he will object to certifying the results. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and 10 others on Saturday announced plans to delay the certification and establish a commission to audit the election results.

“Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed,” the Cruz-led coalition said.

“We do not take this action lightly,” the senators added. “We are acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it. And every one of us should act together to ensure that the election was lawfully conducted under the Constitution and to do everything we can to restore faith in our Democracy.”

The Trump campaign and Republicans have been unsuccessful in challenging the election results. The U.S. Supreme Court last month dismissed a Texas led-effort challenging ballot counts in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. Biden won races in all four states.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey signed a brief with 16 other state attorneys general supporting the lawsuit. Reps. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., and Carol Miller, R-W.Va., joined 124 colleagues in signing a second amicus brief.

Morrisey’s office told MetroNews the attorney general was unavailable for an interview related to the election. A spokesperson for Rep. Miller also said the congresswoman was unavailable.

U.S. Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va. (U.S. Congress)

Mooney, via email, said he signed the brief to ensure state and federal election laws were followed.

Mooney introduced a resolution last month expressing support for counting “every legal vote” and investigating allegations of election fraud. According to Mooney, 23 colleagues co-sponsored the resolution. Mooney said on Dec. 9’s “MetroNews Talkline” that Trump’s accusations of election fraud do not undermine trust in the country’s election systems.

“In this resolution, I encourage neither President Trump nor former Vice President Biden to concede until all investigations of alleged fraud are completed,” he said Sunday. “I believe it is necessary to investigate every allegation of election fraud to reassure all Americans the President was elected in a free and fair election.”

Mooney also criticized changes in voting, noting the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania approving a deadline extension for allowing mail-in ballots, a decision made because of the coronavirus pandemic and concerns about mail deliveries. Mooney stated election offices received ballots from dead people and people who reside in other states but did not provide specific examples when asked.

As for if he would possibly object to certifying the vote, Mooney’s spokesperson said the congressman will “listen to the debate and decide at that time.”

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., on Sunday issued a statement as part of a bipartisan group of senators in support of certification.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. (Office of U.S. Senator Joe Manchin)

“The 2020 election is over. All challenges through recounts and appeals have been exhausted,” the senators said. “At this point, further attempts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 Presidential election are contrary to the clearly expressed will of the American people and only serve to undermine Americans’ confidence in the already determined election results.”

The senators said Congress has a responsibility to verify the election results, adding lawmakers need to prepare for working with Biden and the incoming administration.

“It’s time to move forward,” they concluded.

The senatorial group comprised of five Democrats, four Republicans and independent Angus King of Maine, who caucuses with Democrats. Signees included Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, as well as Democrats Mark Warner of Virginia and Illinois’ Dick Durbin, the Senate’s minority whip.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., did not return a request for comment. Capito, who began her second term in the Senate on Sunday, previously stated she would respect the election results and find common ground with Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., who also did not return a request for comment, previously stated support for an organized transition of power between Trump and Biden.

“President Trump has rightly exposed some problems with the process of voting and counting votes and is well within his right to challenge irregularities in court,” McKinley told MetroNews on Nov. 24.

“However, it does not appear those legal challenges will change the result of the election. It is important there be an orderly transition in the coming weeks and months. I support President Trump’s decision to allow the GSA to assist in this transition.”

The Washington Post on Sunday released audio of Trump trying to pressure Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to change the election results. Biden won the state even after an audit of every ballot and a recount.

The House on Sunday elected California Democrat Nancy Pelosi to her second consecutive and fourth overall term as Speaker of the House. McKinley, Mooney and Miller joined Republicans in backing Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.