After a less than restful holiday recess, the first week of January is setting up to be a blockbuster of epic proportions up on Capitol Hill. In addition to an important Senate runoff election that could swing the power of government in this country, lawmakers are also facing a battle within their ranks when it comes time to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. All of this is happening amidst the backdrop of a global pandemic that has reached record levels of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.
Here is what is on tap this week.Read More »
The first meeting of Congress for the new term will kick off what is sure to be a tumultuous week in Washington, DC. The lines are being drawn between not only Democrats and Republicans, but also within the Republican ranks as some lawmakers continue to affirm their loyalty to President Donald Trump and others try to distance themselves from the controversy surrounding his waning days in office.
Tuesday, January 5: While the balance of power in the House is clear at this point, the Senate still hangs in the balance. This will all change on Tuesday when voters head to the polls to elect not just one, but two senators in the state of Georgia. A pair of special runoff elections will determine if the Republicans keep control of the Senate or if the Democrats can effectively call the shots with the tie-breaking vote going to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
The Republicans are running two incumbents in Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Should either or both of these win, the Republicans will keep control of the Senate. However, if the Democratic challengers, Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, sweep the votes, then there will be a 50-50 split in the chamber with ties going over to Harris to decide.
In other words, the importance of this election cannot be overstated.
Recent polling shows that both of the races are in a statistical dead heat. Early voting has been open for weeks, with over three million votes already cast. Of that number, roughly one-third are from absentee ballots with the remaining two-thirds coming from in-person voting. While Democrats are touting the record-breaking early voting totals as a reason to be optimistic, Republicans are expressing confidence that their base will get out and vote in droves on election day.
After being exposed to a staffer who tested positive for COVID-19, Perdue was forced to step off of the campaign trail and quarantine during the last days of his final push for votes. While Perdue was isolating, Loeffler appeared with South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem at an event in McDonough. Meanwhile, Harris was the main event at a joint rally with Warnock and Ossoff in Savannah.
It should be noted that just like the last presidential election, it is likely that nobody will know the winner of the special runoff by the end of the day. Americans should be prepared for this process to play out over the next few days.
Wednesday, January 6: As the country wakes up hoping to learn more about the results of the Georgia Senate races, there will be another battle brewing on Capitol Hill. January 6 is the day that Congress is scheduled to officially count the votes in the Electoral College. While this event is normally just a procedural process, it is sure to be anything but standard procedure this year.
At least one dozen Republican senators have already said that they are going to vote against counting the votes for President-elect Joe Biden. This group is on record saying that they are calling on an emergency audit of the election results due to alleged instances of voter fraud. Although no courts have upheld the Trump administration’s claims of this voter irregularity, these dozen senators are calling on a commission to investigate further.
The senators who have gone on record saying that they will challenge the results of the Electoral College include:
- Ted Cruz – Texas
- Mike Braun – Indiana
- Marsha Blackburn – Tennessee
- Steve Daines – Montana
- Ron Johnson – Wisconsin
- John Kennedy – Louisiana
- James Lankford – Oklahoma
- Bill Hagerty – Tennessee
- Cynthia Lummis – Wyoming
- Roger Marshall – Kansas
- Tommy Tuberville – Alabama
- Josh Hawley – Missouri
Although the vocal members opposing the counting of the votes are stealing the headlines, there is also significant opposition to this movement within the party. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney called the decision by his colleagues an “egregious ploy.” Other notable GOP senators who have come out against the move include Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Thursday, January 7: While nothing is out of the realm of possibility at this point, it is expected that the debate surrounding the certification of the presidential election results may last well into Thursday. The Senate and the House are each required to debate for two hours before holding a vote for every state result that is called into question. While this procedure will undoubtedly cause even more friction within the ranks, it will not have an effect on the overall outcome of the election.
Biden is set to be sworn into office on January 20.
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