Joint Session of US Congress set to formally certify Joe Biden’s presidential victory – Times of India

WASHINGTON: A joint session of the US Congress, presided over by Vice President Mike Pence, on Wednesday is scheduled to count the result of the November 3 presidential election and officially confirm the Electoral College votes won by President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
However, a large number of Republican lawmakers, including more than 100 members of the House of Representatives and over a dozen Senators, are expected to raise their opposition to the counting of votes and election results.
“When the Congress meets tomorrow, this resounding victory will be recognised, and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be officially declared the next President and Vice President of the United States,” House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in her “Dear Colleague letter” on Tuesday.
Observing that the Joint Session should be a solemn occasion, Pelosi said there are no speaking roles during the session, except for announcing the votes of the states.
“If Republicans bring a challenge to a state, we then break into separate House and Senate sessions to debate. The state delegations and our leaders – Representatives Zoe Lofgren, Jamie Raskin, Adam Schiff and Joe Neguse – have been working on our Democratic presentation of the Constitutional, historical and thematic justification for respecting the will of the people,” Pelosi said.
“On the Floor of the House, we will have a civics lesson about protecting the integrity of our democracy. Priority to speak has been given to state delegation Members from states that are expected to face a challenge,” she said.
Pelosi, in her letter, wrote that during the Joint Session, access to the Floor of the House will be limited to those Members who are scheduled to speak during House debate where there is an objection.
Unless participating in the House debate, members are encouraged to remain in their offices unless called to vote.
“In the event of a challenge, we may only have 54 Members in the House Gallery, which we hope to accommodate on a rotating basis,” she said.
“Tomorrow is about guaranteeing trust in our democratic system. As Members of Congress, we all have a responsibility to uphold the principle: the people are sovereign and that they hold the power to choose their leaders through the ballot box. I am confident that Democrats will honour this responsibility, with unity, patriotism and dignity For The People,” Pelosi wrote.
Despite objections from a group of lawmakers and a potential debate, the Joint Session of the Congress is likely to certify Biden’s victory.
Incumbent President Donald Trump, a Republican, has not conceded the election, reiterating unverified claims that the presidential polls were rigged.
Dozens of lawsuits by his campaign challenging election results have failed in US courts.
According to The New York Times, the entire process is likely to go on for many hours. Pence will preside on Wednesday over a roll call of the states.
“If at least one senator and one House member object to the results from a state, they can force a debate of up to two hours about those results. Each chamber will then vote separately on whether to certify that state’s results,” the daily reported.
As per the Constitution, the vice president opens each state’s sealed certificates in alphabetical order and hands them to one of four “tellers” — a Republican and a Democrat from each chamber who review the certificates and announce the state’s votes, CQ Roll Call reported.
The counting is typically procedural and efficient, by congressional standards. But objections to states’ votes, which Republicans have promised, will extend the process, it said.
“For results to be overturned, both the House and the Senate would have to agree to do so. Because the House is controlled by the Democrats, there is no realistic possibility of any state’s outcome being rejected. In addition, many if not most Senate Republicans appear likely to join all Democrats in rejecting challenges to the results,” The New York Times said.
The House and Senate are expected to debate objections to the results in at least three states — Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania, all of which went to Biden — but ultimately to certify Biden’s 306-to-232 Electoral College victory over President Trump, the daily reported.
Meanwhile, members of Pennsylvania state have written a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, saying they believe that state results should not have been certified by the Secretary of State.

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