Members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives will vote Wednesday to accept or reject the results of the Electoral College, won by President-elect Joe Biden during the November election. Outgoing President Donald Trump continues to pressure Republican lawmakers to overturn the decision made by American voters.
Key Florida Republicans have not announced their position publicly on the issue, waiting until the Jan. 6 vote.
The certification vote on Wednesday is normally a routine, procedural affair that draws no attention. After his 2020 defeat in the Electoral College and popular vote, Trump, however, has used false claims of large amounts of illegal voting to challenge every small step of the process. Trump’s own Department of Justice, several state recounts, and dozens of court decisions show the president’s accusations are not true.
The president’s allies spent the weekend pressuring Republicans to back him over the election results.
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Political operative Roger Stone, who Trump recently pardoned, led a weekend rally in Sen. Rick Scott’s hometown over the weekend. A similar but smaller rally was organized by far-right groups, including the Proud Boys, outside the Miami-Dade home of Sen. Marco Rubio.
“The fake news coupled with these establishment politicians are trying to steal this,” Enrique Tarrio, leader of the Proud Boys, said into a megaphone outside Rubio’s home.
Scott released a lengthy statement Wednesday ahead of the electoral college vote count, saying he had concerns about the way the election was carried out.
"During today’s proceedings, I will listen to any and all objections that are raised. I will pay careful attention to the evidence and arguments presented by both sides," Scott said. “The situation in Pennsylvania is of particular concern to me, and I will likely vote to sustain the objection to their slate of electors."
Scott didn't mention any other states in his statement.
“Democrats who are arguing that Republicans fighting to protect the integrity of every vote are a threat to democracy are the same people who tried to overturn the election of Donald Trump every day since he was sworn into office after winning legitimately in 2016," Scott said. "Democrat efforts to impeach President Trump – aided by their allies in the media – were a political coup attempt, an illegitimate effort to remove a president from office because Democrats didn’t like the result of the election."
Sen. Marco Rubio told Politico earlier this week he would not discuss it until the day of the vote.
The only South Florida Republican vocally rejecting the electoral college is Palm City Congressman Brian Mast.
“I will oppose certifying the Presidential election results on January 6th,” Rep. Mast wrote on Twitter, saying he wants Congress also to investigate questions of voter fraud.
Newly elected Miami Congressman Carlos Gimenez did not go that far, saying he needed to see “clear, conclusive, proof” to throw out the decision of the American people.
“Again, I’m willing to listen but there’s a very high bar to overturn that election,” said Gimenez.
Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart’s office did not return a request for comment.
Neither did newly elected Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, however, she has been diagnosed with COVID-19, making it unclear if she will be present during the vote.
NBC 6 political analyst Carlos Curbelo says Republicans are hedging their bets because Trump can complicate their political ambitions.
“Do they defy someone who with a simple tweet can make their lives impossible, or draw a primary challenge, or get in the way of their ambitions?" Curbelo said. "Whether people want to run for Senate or president in the future. That’s what Republicans are weighing."
It’s a loyalty test.
“Well that’s right,” said Curbelo. “Everything with Donald Trump is.”
Democrats representing South Florida have used harsh words to describe the attempt to overturn the election in Congress.
“What the Republicans are attempting to do goes against all democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution and is shameful,” Rep. Frederica Wilson told NBC 6. “Witnessing these shenanigans makes me ashamed and disgusted with my own country’s election.”
Rep. Ted Deutch wrote to NBC 6, “It’s an outrage that elected officials who swore to support our constitution yesterday will break that oath on Wednesday when they try to help Trump reverse the outcome of the election.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz released the following statement to NBC 6:
“This presidential election was easily the most scrutinized of any in recent history, and it has withstood dozens of baseless allegations that Republican-appointed judges and elections officials have shot down. I am deeply disappointed in the attempts to degrade our democracy by certain Republican congressional colleagues who have fueled the lies and misinformation about our electoral process. They have only undermined our democracy. But I will work across the aisle this week with those honest, patriotic Republicans who are prepared to put loyalty to our country before loyalty to Donald Trump and preserve the foundations of our democracy by recognizing the presidency of Joe Biden.”
A smaller but similar attempt happened in 2005 when California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer tried to challenge the electoral votes of Ohio over missing voting machines. Leadership in the Democratic Party tamped the effort down for fear of being seen as sore losers.
Something on a similar scope to what Trump supporters are attempting now happened in 1877 when a political deal awarded the Electoral College to Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes in exchange for removing federal troops from the former Confederate states as reconstruction ended and white rule returned to the South.