With less than a day left before Congress is scheduled to certify the votes of the Electoral College, confirming Joe Biden’s win, Sen. Joni Ernst had not yet decided whether she will join Donald Trump’s latest attempt to nullify the results of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
“Sen. Ernst is continuing to hear from Iowans on the matter and will be considering all the information before making her decision,” Ernst spokesperson Ben Watson said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
Prior to that statement, Ernst had not been responding about whether she would object to certifying the results of the election.
The certification of the Electoral College votes submitted by the states is normally a routine matter, but President Trump is pushing Republicans to object to the certification in a last-ditch effort to reverse his loss.
Trump has not been able to produce any evidence of the widespread election fraud he claims resulted in Joe Biden defeating him by 74 votes in the Electoral College and by more than 7 million votes nationwide.
The Trump campaign has had its attempts to reverse the election results rejected more than 60 times by state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, since Nov. 3.
It appears that Trump has persuaded enough members of the House and Senate to cause at least a perfunctory debate on certification in both chambers. The debates, however, will not prevent the certification of the electoral votes.
As Senate President Pro Tempore, Sen. Chuck Grassley will preside over any debate in the Senate, unless Vice President Mike Pence decides to do so in his role as Senate President. Grassley’s office said on Tuesday afternoon that the senator will not himself object to the certification of the election results.
Freshman Republican Ashley Hinson, who represents Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, went further than Grassley and joined 11 other House Republicans in a letter to House leaders stating the previously uncontroversial view that the Constitution does not give Congress the authority to substitute its own judgment for a state’s when it comes to choosing members of the Electoral College.
“To take action otherwise — that is, to unconstitutionally insert Congress into the center of the presidential election process — would amount to stealing power from the people and the states,” the letter says.
The letter, however, still tries to appease Trump supporters by generally endorsing the idea that somehow the election was conducted in an illegitimate manner. “We, like most Americans, are outraged at the significant abuses in our election system resulting from the reckless adoption of mail-in ballots and the lack of safeguards,” the opening sentence states.
The letter doesn’t offer any support for its suggestion that something was wrong in how states handled the increase in voting by mail during the pandemic.
The 12 Republicans also noted it is important that their party not undermine the authority of the Electoral College because “Republican presidential candidates have won the national popular vote only once in the last 32 years,” so winning electoral votes while still being rejected by a majority of Americans is the most likely way for a Republican to become president in the future.
Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who was provisionally sworn-in on Sunday as the new representative for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, took a similar approach in a statement she issued late Tuesday afternoon, minus the candor about the GOP’s inability to win the popular vote.
“Along with many Iowans, I have serious concerns about how elections were conducted in some states and outraged [sic] at abuses of the election system [sic] in those states,” the written statement begins.
Miller-Meeks never names the states she is referring to, and, of course, offers no proof of the “abuses” she claims occurred.
The long and somewhat rambling statement — which includes references to “state’s [sic] rights and federalism” as well as Miller-Meeks joining “the army [sic] at age 18” — concludes, “As a member of Congress who wants to limit the power of the federal government, I must respect the states’ authority here. I understand this decision will disappoint and anger my supporters, but I have sworn an oath to support and defend the Constitution above myself.”
“Therefore, I will vote to accept the state certified electors.”
Iowa’s other Republican in Congress, Randy Feenstra, who was elected in November to the House seat formerly held by Steve King, is taking the same approach as Ernst.
“Congressman Feenstra will continue listening to his constituents and reviewing all the facts before making a decision,” a spokesperson for freshman representative said in a written statement on Tuesday.