Today’s Joint Session of Congress Explained, Plus the Georgia Elections

The United States Capitol Building, the seat of Congress

Well, I didn’t think we were going to have final results out of Georgia until Thursday, so I was planning on focusing today’s post on the Electoral College stunt that Republicans are planning to pull today in the joint session of Congress. But we have to talk about Georgia first.

Democrats win the Georgia Senate seats

From the improbability of two Senate seats in the same state being decided at the same time, to them both going to runoff elections, to the balance of the Senate resting on their outcome, these races were incredibly rare and important. And although Georgia had turned blue for the presidential race, what few polls there were predicted the closest of toss-ups. Add to that deep concern that polls were wrong again and a general feeling that the Republican incumbents had the edge.

Well, the major networks called the Warnock-Loeffler race for Reverand Raphael Warnock last night, and Decision Desk HQ had just made its call in the Ossoff-Perdue race for Jon Ossoff as I finished up this post. (Major networks had not called it yet but no election expert sees a path for Perdue.) Senator-Elect Warnock (whoa does that feel good to type) gave a short speech on Election Night which you can watch HERE.

Here’s what one veteran Republican strategist had to say about this election:

What this election came down to, was a decades+ effort by a network of primarily African-American grassroots organizations led by visionary leaders like Stacey Abrams and LaTosha Brown, to reveal that southern states aren’t “red” — they’ve been suppressed. We won’t know what the final turnout numbers are, but the fact that we’re seeing some counties come in at 90%+ of presidential turnout and one of their most populous counties BEAT their presidential turnout is just staggering. Everyone who called, texted, wrote, and donated for these Senate races along with all of the amazing organizers working on the ground in Georgia these last many years deserve ALL the credit. Incredible.

This is also a good time to get caught up this guide I wrote a few weeks ago: How Would a 50-50 Split Senate Work?

Today’s joint session of Congress

As stipulated by law, on January 6th, both the House and Senate of the new Congress meet together in a joint session to counted the state-certified Electoral College votes. The Vice President’s role is to announce each state’s vote and then announce at the end, the total and thereby, the winner of the presidential election.

Also included in that law is the opportunity for any one legislator in Congress to object to a state’s slate of electors. If an objection is agreed to from a legislator from both chambers, they must all go back and debate that objection for no more than two hours and then take a vote. If both houses vote to object to a state’s electors, those electors will be set aside in the final count. It then goes back to that state’s governor (not the legislator) to decide what happens next.

Several Republicans in both chambers have announced their intention to object to some electoral votes, but you don’t have to worry because the Democratically controlled House will NOT ultimately vote to reject any electors. Game over. Today’s news will feel chaotic, and it will create a spectacle (which Trump will love) but at the end of the day, VP Mike Pence will announce that Joe Biden won 306 electoral votes and therefore is the next president of the United States.

And while the stunt that these Republicans are pulling is legal, it is extremely dangerous to the nation and our democracy. Why? Because they are objecting to electoral votes based on evidence-free conspiracy theories. Democracies are built on discussing the facts and truth. Once lies and deceipt are the foundation of the discussion, it becomes impossible to have a good faith debate about any issue.

The only reason why a majority of Republican voters feel like Joe Biden’s win is illegitimate is because Trump himself said that if he didn’t win, the election would be illegitimate and he said this over and over and over again in the months leading up to the election. When he then lost, conspiracy theories sprung up all over the place to “explain” how the election was stolen, and almost NONE of the Republican leaders in Congress or elsewhere stood up to these lies and explained that Joe Biden won in a legitimate election. No, they silently let the conspiracy theories take hold and spread like wildfire, by not refuting them and remember, they didn’t even acknowledge Biden’s win or ever call him President-Elect. The delusion that Republican voters are under is absolutely their fault.

No one who believes in a strong democracy should cheer on this effort, or brush it aside because it is doomed to fail. However, there is one silver lining. It forces every single Republican in Congress TO GO ON RECORD as to whether or not their loyalty is to an authoritarian or the Constitution. And that is a vote that will follow them forever.

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