Portman Opposes Rejecting Election Certification

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – U.S. Sen. Rob Portman will not object to the results of the Electoral College, the senator announced in a news release around lunchtime on Monday.

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are scheduled to meet in a joint session Wednesday to count each state’s electoral votes as determined by the November election. The Electoral College votes, as certified by each state, show Democratic nominee Joe Biden as the winner over President Donald Trump. The Electoral College voted Dec. 16.

“The Constitution created a system for electing the president through the Electoral College that ensures the people and the states hold the power, not Congress,” Portman said. “I cannot support allowing Congress to thwart the will of the voters.”

Since the election, Trump, congressional Republicans and their supporters have cast doubt on those results. A recorded phone conversation reported by several media outlets this weekend showed Trump attempting to convince Georgia’s secretary of state Saturday to overturn the state’s results. A recording of the call can be listened to HERE – along with a transcription – on The Washington Post’s website.

Portman, R-Ohio, said he voted and campaigned for Trump, was disappointed when he lost and supported his right to pursue recounts and legal challenges. But after two months, none of the recounts changed any results and none of the dozens of lawsuits uncovered “evidence of fraud or irregularities widespread enough to change the result of the election,” he said. 

“This was the finding of numerous Republican-appointed judges and the Trump Administration’s own Department of Justice. Every state has now weighed in and certified its electoral slate based on its vote and the process set out in the Constitution,” he continued.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, is expected to announce Tuesday whether he will join Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives to object to the results of the 2020 presidential election, a Johnson spokesperson said. 

Johnson was among more than 100 House members who signed an amicus brief to support a lawsuit filed by Texas with the U.S. Supreme Court last month challenging the election results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, which Biden won. The high court dismissed the case. 

On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the joint session in his role as president of the Senate. He will open the certificates of the electoral votes from each state and call for objections to each state’s votes, which must be made in writing. 

If the objections are endorsed by at least one member of the House and Senate, the two chambers will convene separately to consider each objection. A simple majority in both chambers is required to uphold the objection and reject that state’s votes.     

More than 140 House Republicans and at least a dozen GOP senators reportedly plan to vote against certification of the Electoral College vote.

Last week, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16 Pa., released a joint statement with seven House colleagues expressing their intent to vote against certification of Pennsylvania’s electors, citing alleged “unlawful actions” taken by Pennsylvania’s governor, secretary of state and Supreme Court.     

Federal and state officials, including Republicans, have testified to the accuracy of the election results and rejected allegations of widespread election fraud that would have affected the results. 

In his statement, Portman reiterated his support for a bipartisan commission dedicated to increasing confidence in elections. 

“I understand that despite these findings and the state certifications, many Americans believe the election was unfairly decided and [that] there were instances of fraud and irregularities that occurred,” he said. “For these reasons, for the past several weeks I have advocated that Congress should establish a blue ribbon bipartisan panel on election integrity that would provide transparency into issues in the 2020 election, and recommend best practices for the next election.”

Portman recalled an incident in 2005 when “Democrats objected to the electors from my home state of Ohio, hoping to give the presidency to John Kerry instead of George W. Bush. I stood in opposition to Democrats then, saying Congress should not ‘obstruct the will of the American people.’ I was concerned then that Democrats were establishing a dangerous precedent where Congress would inappropriately assert itself to try to reverse the will of the voters. I cannot now support Republicans doing the same thing. “

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Monday they would vote to verify the Electoral College results. Both Ohio Democrats supported Biden and his running mate, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.   

In a statement this afternoon, Brown characterized as “unconscionable” GOP lawmakers’ efforts to threaten the integrity of the election process “by dealing in unfounded conspiracy theories” and refusing to stand up to Trump.  

“Let’s be clear: the election is over and the Biden-Harris ticket won. President Trump’s lawsuits and phone call pressuring Georgia election officials to overturn the will of the American people and ‘find votes’ are the last desperate acts of a presidency that voters rejected in record numbers last November,” he said.  

Trump’s and GOP lawmakers’ efforts to undermine and overturn the results of the election were “an attack on the most fundamental pillars of our democracy that have made our nation what it is over the last 200 years,” Ryan said in a late afternoon statement. 

“But make no mistake, while these cynical actions will continue to make headlines, they will not change the results of the election,” he continued. “The will of the people has been heard and on Jan. 20, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the next President of the United States.”

Pictured: Dusk falls over the Capitol, Monday, Dec. 21, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.