US Congress set to certify Joe Biden victory amid pro-Trump protests

Photo by Mark Reinstein/Corbis via Getty Images

US lawmakers are braced for a volatile session to confirm Joe Biden as the next president, as Donald Trump’s supporters protest against the result.

WASHINGTON D.C. (BBC News) – A joint session of Congress will count and confirm electoral college votes. The proceedings to select the president are usually brief and ceremonial, but some Republicans loyal to Trump have vowed to support his efforts to overturn the result by formally objecting at the session, in a bid that is almost certain to fail.

For days Trump has also been putting pressure on Vice-President Mike Pence, who will preside over the session, to block certification of the result. Constitutional experts say he has no such power and, according to publications from The New York Times and CNN, Mike Pence told Donald Trump he would not intervene to reject the result. Nevertheless, Trump is making a final stand against the certification of his defeat.

So far, thousands have gathered in Washington DC for a “Save America Rally”, with Trump addressing them. He urged them to march to the Capitol building to support those legislators opposing Mr. Biden’s confirmation. Hundreds of National Guard members and police officers have been mobilized in case there is trouble between opposing protesters.

Trump has refused to concede the 3 November election, repeatedly alleging fraud without providing any evidence. On Wednesday, he said again: “We will never give up. We will never concede.”

He has also tried to throw doubt on the integrity of Tuesday’s Senate run-off votes in the southern, traditionally Republican, state of Georgia. Projections by US TV networks suggest the Democrats have won one of the seats and are neck-and-neck for the second seat.

If the Democrats win both they will gain effective control of the Senate – something that will help Mr. Biden push forward his agenda after he is inaugurated as president on 20 January.

What will happen in Congress?
The two houses of Congress – the House of Representatives and the Senate – will hold a joint session on Wednesday, where they will open sealed certificates from the 50 US states containing a record of their electoral votes.

Under the US system, voters cast their ballots for “electors”, who in turn formally vote for the candidates weeks after the election. Mr. Biden received 306 votes under the electoral college system, to Trump’s 232.

The proceedings are scheduled to begin at 13:00 local time (1800 GMT).

Bipartisan representatives from the two chambers will read out the results on Wednesday and do an official count.

There is a split in the Republican party, with dozens of House Republicans and a smaller group of Senators expected to object to the count from some of the key swing states.

Ted Cruz is leading a group of about a dozen senators calling for a 10-day delay to audit unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud.

Mr. Pence – who as president of the Senate is due to declare Mr. Biden the winner – earlier said he welcomed this move.

 

He stopped short of repeating allegations of fraud but his chief of staff said Mr. Pence shared what he called “the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities”.

By US election law, Mr. Pence’s duty in the proceedings is purely administrative, but Mr. Trump has urged his vice-president to “come through”.

The proceedings are scheduled to begin at 13:00 local time (1800 GMT). Bipartisan representatives from the two chambers will read out the results on Wednesday and do an official count.

There is a split in the Republican party, with dozens of House Republicans and a smaller group of Senators expected to object to the count from some of the key swing states.

Ted Cruz is leading a group of about a dozen senators calling for a 10-day delay to audit unsubstantiated allegations of election fraud. Mr. Pence – who as president of the Senate is due to declare Mr. Biden the winner – earlier said he welcomed this move.

He stopped short of repeating allegations of fraud but his chief of staff said Mr. Pence shared what he called “the concerns of millions of Americans about voter fraud and irregularities”.

By US election law, Mr. Pence’s duty in the proceedings is purely administrative, but Trump has urged his vice-president to “come through”.

Objections that are endorsed by a member of the House of Representatives and a member of the Senate must be considered by lawmakers in a two-hour debate, followed by a vote.

However, for an objection to being upheld, a majority in both chambers must vote in favor. Republicans hold the majority in the Senate but some of their members have already said they will not contest the results. Democrats are in the majority in the House.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already recognized Mr. Biden’s victory and asked other Republicans not to object.



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