By HALEY YAMADA, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — Many of the Republican senators who had promised to object to the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the general election changed their mind late Wednesday after a violent mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters descended on the U.S. Capitol Wednesday.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., who promised Trump in person at a rally two days ago she would object to the certification, reversed course, saying she could not “in good conscience” follow through on objecting to Biden’s presidency.
“When I arrived in Washington this morning, I fully intended to object to the certification of the electoral votes. However, the events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider and I cannot now, in good conscience, object,” said Loeffler, in what could be her last speech in the chamber after losing reelection to Rev. Raphael Warnock in Georgia’s Senate runoff one day earlier.
Over a quarter of Senate Republicans and possibly scores of House Republicans on Monday had planned to dispute the results of the 2020 general election.
The Senate voted 93-6 against objections to Arizona’s vote certification. Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Cindy Hyde-Smith, John Neely Kennedy, Roger Marshall and Tommy Tuberville all carried through with objecting to the electors.
The term in Senate for former Republican Sen. David Perdue — who lost in the Georgia runoff this week to Jon Ossoff — ended on Jan. 3, leaving 99 voters.
In the House, 121 Republicans — 57% of the conference — voted in favor of the Arizona objection, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana. The House rejected the challenge to Arizona’s electoral votes, 303-121.
Like Loeffler, Sen. Jim Lankford, R-Okla., reconsidered his objections.
“While we disagree — and disagree strongly at times — we do not encourage what happened today, ever,” said Lankford. “We are headed toward certification of Joe Biden as [president of the United States] and we will work together.”
Earlier this week, Lankford was one of 11 senators who supported a proposal written by Cruz, R-Texas, to establish an electoral commission to review claims of voter fraud, specifically “to consider and resolve the disputed returns” of ballots.
Cruz objected Wednesday morning along with Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona to Arizona’s Electoral College vote just before pro-Trump protesters began taking over the Capitol. On Wednesday night, Gosar tweeted that he’d move forward with his plan alongside Cruz and Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs. A member of both the House and Senate, regardless of what state they represent, must object to a state’s certification to bring the matter to a vote.
“Leftist violence, or any violence, will not deter our mission for truth and transparency. The people need and deserve the truth,” Gosar said, baselessly blaming “leftists” for the violence.
Hawley, who was the first senator to announce he would be opposing the Electoral College votes, reaffirmed Wednesday that he also would not withdraw his objection, and doubled down on calls for investigating election fraud, claims of which have been repeatedly tossed from court.
“[I want] to say to millions of Americans [that] violence is never warranted, that violence will not be tolerated, that those who engage in it will be prosecuted, but that this body will act to address the concerns of all Americans across the country. We do need an investigation into irregularities, fraud,” said Hawley.
Although Sen. Steven Danies, R-Mont., had not previously announced he was planning to object to the Electoral College results, he released a statement Wednesday condemning the violence.
“We must stand together. We will not let today’s violence deter Congress from certifying the election. We must restore confidence in our electoral process. We must, and we will, have a peaceful and orderly transition of power,” wrote Daines.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who voted to convict Trump in his Senate impeachment trial early last year, urged people to respect the democratic process.
“For any who remain insistent on an audit in order to satisfy the many people who believe that the election was stolen, I’d offer this perspective: No congressional audit is ever going to convince these voters, particularly when the president will continue to say the election was stolen,” Romney said. “The best way we can show respect for the voters who were upset is by telling them the truth.”
Despite supporting the challenge to the Electoral College vote, McCarthy called for unity following Wednesday’s events.
“We will not falter, we will not bend and we will not shrink from our duty. Let me be very clear, mobs don’t rule America, laws rule America. It was true when our cities were burning this summer and it’s true now,” said McCarthy.
“Let’s show the country the mob did not win,” the California Republican added. “We have a job to do, let’s do it with pride and let’s be better when the sun rises tomorrow.”
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