[Congressional Record Volume 167, Number 4 (Wednesday, January 6, 2021)]
[Senate]
[Pages S14-S18]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                   CHALLENGE TO THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE

  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. Vice President, as prescribed by the Constitution 
and the laws of the Nation, the purpose of this joint session is for 
tellers, appointed on a bipartisan basis by the two Houses, to read to 
the Congress the results of an election that has already happened. We 
are here to receive an announcement of a vote that has already been 
certified by every State in the Union and confirmed by the courts many 
times--many times over. We are here to watch the current Vice President 
open envelopes and receive the news of a verdict that has already been 
rendered. It is a solemn and august occasion, no doubt, but it is a 
formality.
  The Congress does not determine the outcome of elections; the people 
do. The Congress is not endowed with the power to administer elections; 
our States are given that power.
  By the end of the proceedings today, there will be confirmed once 
again something that is well known and well settled: The American 
people elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be the next President and 
Vice President of the United States. Yet a number of our colleagues 
have organized an effort to undermine and object to that free and fair 
election. They are in the minority. They will lose; they know that. 
They have no evidence of widespread voter fraud upon which to base 
their objections. That is because there is none. There is none, not 
brought before any of the courts successfully.
  They know that President Trump and his allies have suffered a defeat 
in court after court across the country, losing no fewer than 62 legal 
challenges. And, I might add, many Republican-appointed judges--some 
appointed by President Trump--rendered those decisions.
  They know--you all know--that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are going 
to be sworn in as President and Vice President of the United States on 
January 20, but they are going to object to the counting of the vote 
anyway, and in the process, they will embarrass themselves, they will 
embarrass their party, and worst of all, they will embarrass their 
country.
  This insurrection was fortunately discouraged by the leadership of 
the majority party, but it was not quelled.

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It is a very sad comment on our times that merely accepting the results 
of an election is considered an act of political courage. Sadder and 
more dangerous still is the fact that an element of the Republican 
Party believes their political viability hinges on the endorsement of 
an attempted coup, that anyone--much less an elected official--would be 
willing to tarnish our democracy in order to burnish their personal 
political fortunes.
  Over the course of the afternoon and however far into the evening 
this band of Republic objectors wants to take us, Senators of good will 
from both sides of the aisle will explain why these challenges must be 
dismissed. The Senators from States whose electoral votes are being 
challenged will explain how the allegations of fraud are baseless. And 
a substantial bipartisan majority must vote to put down these 
objections and defend the sanctity of our elections and indeed--and 
indeed--our great and grand democracy because that is what we are 
talking about today: the health of power democracy, this wonderful, 
beautiful, grand democracy where the peaceful passing of the torch is 
extolled by schoolchildren in the second grade but not by some here.
  As we speak, half of our voters are being conditioned by the outgoing 
President to believe that when his party loses an election, the results 
must not be legitimate.
  As we speak, the eyes of the world are on this Chamber, questioning 
whether America is still the shining example of democracy, the shining 
city on the Hill.
  What message will we send today to our people, to the world that has 
so looked up to us for centuries? What message will we send to 
fledgling democracies who study our Constitution, mirror our laws and 
traditions in the hopes that they, too, can build a country ruled by 
the consent of the governed?
  What message will we send to those countries where democratic values 
are under assault and look to us to see if those values are still worth 
fighting for?
  What message will we send to every dark corner of the world where 
human rights are betrayed, elections are stolen, human dignity denied?
  What will we show those people? Will we show those people that there 
is a better way to ensure liberty and opportunity of humankind?
  Sadly, a small band of Republican objectors may darken the view of 
our democracy today, but a larger group of Senators and House Members 
from both sides of the aisle can send a message, too; that democracy 
beats deep in the hearts of our citizens and our elected 
representatives; that we are a country of laws and of not men; that our 
traditions are not so easily discarded, even by our President; that 
facts matter; that truth matters; that while democracy allows free 
speech and free expression, even if that expression is antidemocratic, 
there will always, always be--praise God--a far broader and stronger 
coalition ready to push back and defend everything we hold dear.
  We can send that message today by voting in large and overwhelming 
numbers to defeat these objections. My colleagues, we each swore an 
oath just 3 days ago that we would defend and support the Constitution 
of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that we 
would bear true faith and allegiance to the same.
  We swore that we took this obligation freely, without any mental 
reservation or purpose of evasion, and that we could well and 
faithfully discharge the duties of the office we were about to enter, 
so help us God.
  The precise words of that oath were shortly written after the Civil 
War, when the idea of true faith and allegiance to this country and its 
Constitution took on enormous meaning. Let those words ring in the ears 
of every Senator today. Let us do our duty to support and defend the 
Constitution of the United States, so help us God.
  The VICE PRESIDENT. The majority leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I yield up to 5 minutes to the Senator 
from Texas, Senator Cruz.
  The VICE PRESIDENT. The Senator from Texas
  Mr. CRUZ. Mr. President, we gather together at a moment of great 
division, at a moment of great passion. We have seen and, no doubt, 
will continue to see a great deal of moralizing from both sides of the 
aisle, but I would urge to both sides perhaps a bit less certitude and 
a bit more recognition that we are gathered at a time when democracy is 
in crisis.
  Recent polling shows that 39 percent of Americans believe the 
election that just occurred ``was rigged.'' You may not agree with that 
assessment, but it is, nonetheless, a reality for nearly half the 
country.
  I would note it is not just Republicans who believe that. Thirty-one 
percent of Independents agree with that statement. Seventeen percent of 
Democrats believe the election was rigged. Even if you do not share 
that conviction, it is the responsibility, I believe, of this office to 
acknowledge that is a profound threat to this country and to the 
legitimacy of any administrations that will come in the future.
  I want to take a moment to speak to my Democratic colleagues. I 
understand. Your guy is winning right now. If Democrats vote as a bloc, 
Joe Biden will almost certainly be certified as the next President of 
the United States.
  I want to speak to the Republicans who are considering voting against 
these objections. I understand your concerns, but I urge you to pause 
and think: What does it say to the nearly half the country that 
believes this election was rigged if we vote not even to consider the 
claims of illegality and fraud in this election?
  And I believe there is a better way. The leaders just spoke about 
setting aside the election. Let me be clear. I am not arguing for 
setting aside the result of this election. All of us are faced with two 
choices, both of which are lousy. One choice is vote against the 
objection, and tens of millions of Americans will see a vote against 
the objection as a statement that voter fraud doesn't matter, isn't 
real, and shouldn't be taken seriously. And a great many of us don't 
believe that.
  On the other hand, most, if not all, of us believe we should not set 
aside the results of an election just because our candidate may not 
have prevailed. So I endeavored to look for door No. 3, a third option, 
and for that I looked to history, to the precedent of the 1876 
election, the Hayes-Tilden election, where this Congress appointed an 
electoral commission to examine claims of voter fraud.
  Five House Members, five Senators, five Supreme Court Justices 
examined the evidence and rendered a judgment. What I would urge of 
this body is that we do the same; that we appoint an electoral 
commission to conduct a 10-day emergency audit, consider the evidence, 
and resolve the claims.
  For those in the Democratic aisle who say there is no evidence, they 
have been rejected, then you should rest in comfort. If that is the 
case, an electoral commission would reject those claims.
  But for those who respect the voters, simply telling the voters, ``Go 
jump in a lake; the fact that you have deep concerns is of no moment to 
us,'' that jeopardizes, I believe, the legitimacy of this and 
subsequent elections.
  The Constitution gives to Congress the responsibility this day to 
count the votes. The Framers knew what they were doing when they gave 
responsibilities to Congress. We have a responsibility, and I would 
urge that we follow the precedent of 1877. The Electoral Count Act 
explicitly allows objections such as this one for votes that were not 
regularly given.
  Let me be clear. This objection is for the State of Arizona, but it 
is broader than that. It is an objection for all six of the contested 
States to have a credible, objective, impartial body hear the evidence 
and make a conclusive determination. That would benefit both sides. 
That would improve the legitimacy of this election.
  So let me urge my colleagues: All of us take our responsibility 
seriously. I would urge my colleagues: Don't take, perhaps, the easy 
path, but, instead, act together. Astonish the viewers and act in a 
bipartisan sense to say we will have a credible and fair tribunal, 
consider the claims, consider the facts, consider the evidence, and 
make a conclusive determination whether and to what extent this 
election complied with the Constitution and with Federal law.

[[Page S16]]

  

  Mr. SCHUMER. Senator Klobuchar.
  The VICE PRESIDENT. The Senator from Minnesota
  Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I first would like to say I appreciate 
the words of our leader, Senator Schumer, as well as Senator 
McConnell's call for a higher calling.
  January 6 is not typically a day of historical significance for our 
country. For centuries, this day is simply the day that we receive each 
State's certified electoral votes, and it has come and gone without 
much fanfare.
  In fact, this is only the third time in 120 years that the Senate has 
gathered to debate an objection, and as Senator Cruz well knows, both 
times these objections were resoundingly defeated. The last time the 
vote was 74 to 1.
  Why? Because Senators have long believed that they should not mess 
around with the will of the people. They have understood the words of 
our great former colleague John McCain from the State of Arizona, who 
once said that nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a 
cause larger than yourself.
  In this case, my colleagues, our cause, despite our political 
differences, is to preserve our American democracy, to preserve our 
Republic because, as someone once said long ago, it is a republic if 
you can keep it.
  Now, I appreciate all my Democratic and Republican colleagues who 
have joined our ranks of coup fighters, who have stood up for our 
democracy, who stand tall for our Republic, and who believe in an ideal 
greater than ourselves, larger than our political parties. That ideal 
is America.
  And Senator Cruz, he knows this: On January 20, Joe Biden and Kamala 
Harris will be sworn in as President and Vice President of the United 
States. He knows that President-Elect Biden won more votes than any 
President in history and more than 7 million more votes than President 
Trump.
  Despite the unfounded conspiracy theories Senator Cruz tells, he 
knows that high-ranking officials in President Trump's own Homeland 
Security Department have concluded that the 2020 election was ``the 
most secure in American history.''
  If he wants to improve the numbers in his own party that he just 
mentioned of people believing in our elections, maybe he should start 
consulting with them or maybe he should start consulting with former 
Attorney General Barr, who said that he has found no evidence of 
widespread fraud in the 2020 election.
  We don't have to go back to 1877, my colleagues. Senator Cruz knows 
that 80 judges, including conservative judges, including judges 
confirmed in this Chamber, nominated by President Trump, have thrown 
out these lawsuits, calling them baseless, inadequate, and contrary 
both to the plain meaning of the constitutional text and common sense.
  And he knows that all 10 living Defense Secretaries, including both 
of Trump's Defense Secretaries--Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, William 
Cohen--he knows that all of these leaders have come together to say 
that these scurrilous attacks on our democracy must stop and we must 
allow for a peaceful transition of power.
  Senator Sinema will fill you in on the specific facts as to why this 
election was sound and true in Arizona, but a summary: President Trump 
received 1,661,686 votes in the State; President-Elect Biden won 
1,672,143 votes, meaning that he won the State by 10,457 votes.
  On November 30, after Arizona's Republican Governor, the secretary of 
state, the attorney general, and the conservative chief justice of the 
Arizona Supreme Court certified the results of the election, the 
Governor actually said:

       We do elections well here in Arizona. The system is strong.

  Eight postelection lawsuits brought in Arizona to challenge the 
results were dismissed by judges. Nine Members of the House from 
Arizona were elected in the same election, including four Republicans. 
Colleagues, I did not see Senator Cruz over at the swearing-in at the 
House of Representatives last Sunday asking for an audit. He did not 
stop their swearing-in because there was no fraud, and he did not ask 
for an audit because we had a fair election.
  I will end with this. My friend Roy Blunt, my fellow Rules Committee 
leader, many years ago found a statue, a bust of a man at the top of a 
bookcase. He did research. He went to the historians. All he could find 
out was that no one knew who this guy was except that he was a cleric. 
Hence, the statue is called ``The Unknown Cleric.''
  Now, at the time, our leaders thought this man important enough that 
they would warrant a statue for him, but today no one knows who he is. 
Senator Blunt's message to schoolkids and Senators alike that visit his 
office, when he shows them the statue: What we do here is more 
important than who we are.
  Senators, what matters is not our futures, not our own short-term 
destinies.
  What matters is our democracy's destiny because I think many of us 
know people will not know who we are 100 years from now or 200 years 
from now, but what they will know is this: They will know what we did 
today, how we voted today. That is more important than who we are. It 
is a Republic, if we can keep it.
  Thank you, Mr. President.
  I yield the floor.
  The VICE PRESIDENT. The majority leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. I yield up to 5 minutes to the Senator from 
Pennsylvania, Senator Toomey.
  The VICE PRESIDENT. The Senator from Pennsylvania.
  Mr. TOOMEY. I intend later to address the specifics of Pennsylvania 
if and when an objection is raised in regard to Pennsylvania.
  For now, I want to address my remarks to what I think is the 
fundamental question being posed by the objectors, and that is, does 
Congress have the constitutional authority to decide which States' 
electoral college votes should be counted and which should not based on 
how well we think they ran their elections? This is what the objectors 
are really asking us to do--to federalize elections by rejecting 
electoral college votes from States whose processes they say they 
disapprove of and thereby having Congress select the President of the 
United States instead of the American people.
  The answer, Mr. President, is no, there is no such authority under 
the Constitution. The Constitution assigns to the States the 
responsibility to conduct elections. It is clear in article II, section 
1. It leaves courts with the responsibility to adjudicate disputes, and 
it assigns to Congress the ministerial function of counting ballots, 
except for extreme circumstances, such as when a State sends competing 
slates of electors to Congress, which brings me to the 1877 President.
  Some objectors claim to merely want a commission to conduct an audit 
and then let States decide whether to send electors. Well, first, the 
situations are not at all analogous.
  In 1877, Congress had before it two slates of electors from several 
States. There are no Trump electors from swing States; there are just 
Biden electors.
  Second, legislators from the swing States--they have already spoken. 
They have made their decision. They have chosen not to send us 
alternative electors.
  Third, a commission--really? It is completely impractical, and we all 
know it, with 14 days to go before a constitutionally mandated 
inauguration.
  Look at it this way: If the electors are right and it is Congress's 
job to sit in judgment on the worthiness of the States' electoral 
processes, what is the criteria for acceptable electoral processes? 
What investigations have been conducted of these processes? What body 
has deemed that certain States' processes are unacceptable? What 
opportunities were these States given to challenge the findings? Why 
are the objectors objecting only to swing States that President Trump 
lost? What about the ones he won? I don't know--North Carolina? What 
about California? They have ballot harvesting, I am told. If this is 
all supposed to be Congress's job, you would think we would have 
answers to these questions and procedures in place because we would 
have done this every 4 years, right? But we don't because it is not our 
job.
  If we adopt this new precedent that we sit in judgment of States' 
processes, then we are federalizing the election law. We would 
necessarily have to establish the permissible criteria and rules for 
the States' elections
  The ballot harvesting example--it is illegal in some States; it is 
encouraged

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in others. Does it become mandatory or forbidden depending on who is in 
control of Congress? And, as the leader pointed out, it would be the 
end of the electoral college. The electoral college is the mechanism by 
which the people select the President. But if Congress gets to decide 
which States get to vote in the electoral college, then clearly 
Congress is electing the President, not the people. Whichever party 
controls both Houses of Congress would control the Presidency.
  The public would never tolerate Congress picking the President 
instead of themselves, so they would abolish the electoral college, as 
many of our colleagues would like to do, and the end of the electoral 
college, of course, means the Nation will be governed by a handful of 
big blue States and regions that can drum up very large numbers.
  Mr. President, the Constitution does not assign to Congress the 
responsibility to judge the worthiness of State election processes nor 
its adherence to its rules. That is the responsibility of the States 
and the courts.
  Let me conclude with this. I voted for President Trump. I publicly 
endorsed President Trump. I campaigned for President Trump. I did not 
want Joe Biden to win this election. There is something more important 
to me than having my preferred candidate sworn in as the next 
President, and that is to have the American people's chosen candidate 
sworn in as the next President.
  A fundamental defining feature of a democratic republic is the right 
of the people to elect their own leaders. It is now our duty. It is our 
responsibility to ensure that right is respected in this election and 
preserved for future elections. I urge you to vote against this 
objection.
  The VICE PRESIDENT. The Democratic leader.
  Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, the Senator from the great State of 
Arizona, Senator Sinema.
  The VICE PRESIDENT. The Senator from Arizona.
  Ms. SINEMA. Thank you, Mr. President.
  I rise today to share the facts about Arizona's recent election and 
to urge my colleagues to step away from divisive political rhetoric and 
step towards renewing Americans' faith in our democracy.
  The 2020 Arizona election was a success, not for any one party or 
individual but as a demonstration of the will of the voters. A record 
80 percent of registered voters participated, thanks to local Arizona 
election officials who ensured our system worked and our laws were 
upheld. Arizona has offered early voting for more than 100 years, and 
our vote-by-mail system includes strict safeguards. All ballots include 
tracking mechanisms and tamper-resistant envelopes. Election staff are 
trained to authentic signatures. And Arizona imposes severe criminal 
punishments for ballot tampering.
  The Arizona election produced bipartisan results in which members of 
both parties won races, and these results have been confirmed by 
stakeholders across the political spectrum.
  The Republican chairman of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors 
said:

       No matter how you voted, this election was administered 
     with integrity, transparency, and . . . in accordance with 
     Arizona State laws.

  The Republican speaker of the Arizona State House rejected calls for 
the legislature to overturn the election, saying:

       As a conservative Republican, I don't like the results of 
     the presidential election . . . but I cannot and will not 
     entertain a suggestion that we violate current law to change 
     the outcome.

  Eight challenges contesting the Arizona election were brought to 
Federal and State courts. All eight were withdrawn or dismissed, 
including a unanimous ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court. The chief 
justice wrote:

       [The] challenge fails to present any evidence of 
     ``misconduct,'' [or] ``illegal votes'' . . . let alone 
     establish any degree of fraud or a sufficient error rate that 
     would undermine the certainty of the election results.

  During a recent committee hearing, I asked a simple question of the 
former Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security: Did he 
find any evidence disputing the integrity or fairness of Arizona's 
election? His answer was simple: ``No.''
  Arizona and our 15 counties should be congratulated for running a 
secure election. Perhaps the most heartening demonstration of Arizona's 
election success is Jocelyn from Phoenix. Jocelyn is 18 years old and 
was a first-time voter in 2020. So was Rachel from Tucson and thousand 
more Arizonans who for the first time exercised their constitutional 
right to decide their own leaders. Today's challenge to Arizona's 
election fails any factual analysis. More disturbingly, it seeks to rob 
Jocelyn and Rachel and more than 3 million Arizonans of a free, fair 
election.
  Those of us who are trusted with elected office are first and 
foremost public servants. We serve our constituents. We do not seek to 
substitute our personal ambitions for the will of the American people. 
Our system allows for a continuous contest of ideas. And those voters 
who support the losing side of a free, fair election have not been 
disenfranchised; rather, they maintain just as important a voice in 
America's future. Leaders have a duty to serve all of our constituents, 
including those who voted for other candidates.
  Great leaders in our history faced the choice of whether to take an 
action strengthening our democracy even if a different action would 
better serve their political ambitions. Many are revered today because 
they chose our Republic over their self-interests, including my 
personal hero, Senator John McCain. Following his Presidential loss, 
Senator McCain said:

       The American people have spoken . . . Senator Obama and I 
     have . . . argued our differences, and he has prevailed. . . 
     . Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans.

  He spoke to the nearly 60 million Americans who voted for him, 
saying:

       It is natural tonight to feel some disappointment, but 
     tomorrow we must move beyond it and work together to get our 
     country moving again.

  Senator McCain was right.
  Today we have serious, significant work to do beating this pandemic 
and reviving our economy. I urge my colleagues to follow the example of 
Senator John McCain and so many others, reject this meritless 
challenge, and uphold the will of Arizona's voters.
  Thank you.
  The VICE PRESIDENT. The majority leader.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I yield up to 5 minutes to the Senator 
from Oklahoma, Senator Lankford.
  The VICE PRESIDENT. The Senator from Oklahoma.
  Mr. LANKFORD. Mr. President, in America, we settle our differences in 
elections. What happens if you don't trust the election count or you 
are concerned that so many courts denied or dismissed cases within 
hours after they were given thousands of pages of evidence?
  The reason we have a Congress to settle our Nation's divisions and 
the rules of the Senate make sure that every opinion in the Nation is 
heard is so issues like this can be addressed.
  The constitutional crisis in our country right now is that millions 
of Americans are being told to sit down and shut up. Their opinions 
matter.
  During the electoral challenge on January 6, 2005, Senator Ted 
Kennedy stood on this floor and said this. He said:

       I commend the many thousands of citizens in Massachusetts 
     and other States who insisted that treating today's electoral 
     vote count in Congress as a meaningless ritual would be an 
     insult to our democracy unless we register our own protest 
     against the obviously-flawed voting process that took place 
     in so many States. We are hopeful that this major issue that 
     goes to the heart of our democracy is now firmly implanted on 
     the agenda for effective action by . . . Congress.

  I agree. The U.S. Constitution does not allow me to assign different 
electors to a State, nor should it. The U.S. Constitution does not give 
the option to the Vice President of the United States to just 
unilaterally decide which States are in and out, and it should not. 
Each State decides its electors through its people.
  A small group of Senators, including myself, have demanded that we 
not ignore the questions that millions of people are asking in our 
Nation, so we have proposed a constitutional solution. Pause the count. 
Get more facts to the States before January the 20th. We proposed a 15-
member commission, just like what was done after the failed election of 
1876. We are encouraging people to spend 10 days going through all the 
issues so States can have one

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last opportunity to address any challenges. Then the States, as the 
Constitution directs, would make the final decision on their electors.
  I have some colleagues who have said that a 10-day commission is not 
enough time, so they have counterproposed just ignoring the lingering 
questions.
  We need to do something.
  (Mr. GRASSLEY assumed the Chair.)
  Mr. LANKFORD. My challenge today is not about the good people of 
Arizona.

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