Georgia Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler’s support for President Trump’s election challenges is about to face another pressure test.
Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks needs a senator to help him question the Electoral College vote after members of the new Congress are sworn in next January. And Loeffler needs to rally Trump’s base ahead of her Jan. 5 special election runoff against Democratic Rev. Raphael Warnock.
Brooks’s move is the latest Republican attempt to deny President-elect Joe Biden the White House. And it’ll likely be the last before Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
Brooks’s plan to thwart Biden is complicated. Bill Dauster, a chief of staff to former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, explained the process to the Washington Examiner.
Congress will call a joint session on Jan. 6 to ascertain the Electoral College results after lawmakers take their seats on Jan. 3, he said. And as the count stands, Biden has 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.
“If a representative and a senator join in challenging a state’s Electoral College votes, then they will force separate two-hour sessions of the House and the Senate to consider the challenge. At the end of the two hours, each house votes separately,” he said.
But Dauster added, “Both houses have to vote affirmatively to unseat an Electoral College delegation.”
With a Democratic House majority, however narrow, Brooks’s contest is unlikely to succeed. Yet that doesn’t mean Loeffler can’t benefit from trying.
Unlike incumbent Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue, who’s vying in the concurrent Jan. 5 runoff against Democratic filmmaker Jon Ossoff, Loeffler will be able to aid Brooks because she’ll be in power on Jan. 6, even if she loses on Jan. 5. That’s because even if Warnock wins, that result may take days to certify. In comparison, Perdue’s term expires on Jan. 3.
Dauster reminded the Washington Examiner that the late Democratic Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones and retired California Sen. Barbara Boxer attempted the same maneuver as Brooks in 2005, “but they failed in their effort.”
“President George W. Bush’s 2004 election victory still allowed him to serve his second term,” he said.
Jim Manley, once a Reid spokesman, provided another example. Washington state Rep. Pramila Jayapal pulled the move in 2017 but with no senatorial endorsements. Then-Vice President Biden, who was overseeing the joint session at the time, had to intercede.
“There is no debate,” Biden said. “It is over.”
For Manley, Brooks’s strategy was “a stunt” to prove “how much they’re willing to defend Donald Trump.” He also insisted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would be prepared for any shenanigans on her floor.
“Given how they’re campaigning, you know, I wouldn’t be surprised,” he said, in reference to whether Loeffler would assist Brooks’s cause. “Nothing’s going to happen. It’s going to be a cheap stunt, but that’s not going to stop them from doing this.”
“The only thing they’re thinking about is trying to keep on Trump’s good side, to show the MAGA defenders that they’re willing to go the extra mile to defend the president,” he continued, shortening Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.”
A Loeffler spokesman didn’t immediately respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.
The Georgia Senate races are highly competitive and will depend largely on voter turnout, according to Manley.
Roughly $330 million has already been doled out on the contests, given they’ll decide the Senate’s balance of power until 2022. Republicans currently have a 50-48 seat majority in the next Congress, with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris capable of breaking any ties.
“You rarely get a second chance in politics, and Democrats have two here,” Manley said. “Trump, Loeffler, and Purdue are betting that this full-frontal assault on the Constitution is going to gin up their base. I’m betting that it’s going to turn voters off, and Democrats will pick up one or both seats.”
Loeffler has vociferously stood up for Trump’s right to fight the Nov. 3 election results in court. She didn’t, though, parrot the president’s “rigged” language last weekend during her debate against Warnock.
Loeffler requires Trump and his followers’ support to hold on to the Senate seat she’s occupied since January. She was appointed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp to replace retired Sen. Johnny Isakson. Isakson left office toward the end of 2019 due to health concerns.
Moore’s tactic can be invoked after the Electoral College meets. That gathering’s set to take place on Monday after all 50 states and the District of Columbia have certified their results. This cycle’s Tuesday “safe harbor” date, a deadline for states to name electors who can’t be overturned by Congress, has passed as well.