ST. LOUIS — Congresswoman Ann Wagner will not join four other Missouri members of the United States Congress in contesting the Electoral College results that confirmed President-elect Joe Biden's victory over Donald Trump.
In a statement, Wagner said interfering with the certification of the election would go against the constitution and her oath of office.
“I cannot and will not unconstitutionally insert Congress into the Presidential election in this manner," she said in the statement. "This would amount to stealing power from the People and the States. It would, in effect, replace the Electoral College with Congress, and strengthen the efforts of those who are determined to eliminate it or render it irrelevant."
Last Week, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley announced that he plans to formally object during the Electoral College certification process, a move decried by current and former Senators from his own party.
Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt said he would not join Hawley in his objection.
"I expect there to be a vigorous debate regarding any state where the electors are challenged by at least one House member and one Senator," he said last week. "As one of the four Members of Congress required to participate in the joint session, I will not be joining in any objection.”
Hawley is echoing unfounded claims by President Donald Trump of election fraud in November. Hawley said he wants to “highlight the failure of some states, including notably Pennsylvania, to follow their own election laws.” He did not offer any specifics or evidence of his claims.
Late last week, Representatives Vicky Hartzler (R, MO-04), Sam Graves (R, MO-06), Billy Long (R, MO-07) and Jason Smith(R, MO-08) co-authored a letter published to Smith's website declaring their intention to object.
Since then, a coalition of 11 Republican senators, led by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, announced it will challenge the outcome of the presidential election by voting to reject electors from some states when Congress meets next week to certify the Electoral College results.
A range of nonpartisan election officials and Republicans has confirmed there was no fraud in the November contest that would change the results of the election. That includes former Attorney General William Barr, who said he saw no reason to appoint a special counsel to look into the president’s claims about the 2020 election. He resigned from his post in December.
Trump and his allies have filed roughly 50 lawsuits challenging election results, and nearly all has been dismissed or dropped. He’s also lost twice at the U.S. Supreme Court.
When Congress convenes to certify the Electoral College results, any lawmaker can object to a state’s votes on any grounds. But the objection is not taken up unless it is in writing and signed by both a member of the House and a member of the Senate.
When there is such a request, then the joint session suspends and the House and Senate go into separate sessions to consider it. For the objection to be sustained, both chambers must agree to it by a simple majority vote. If they disagree, the original electoral votes are counted.
As president of the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the Jan. 6 session and declare the winner.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had asked his caucus not to participate in a futile quest to overturn the results.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The full statement from Rep. Ann Wagner is as follows:
“On January 3, 2021, I took a solemn oath before God and Country to, ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States.’ I have faith in our nation’s legal process, believe in the rule of law, and will always uphold that oath to support and defend the Constitution.
“Article II of the Constitution and the 12th Amendment are clear. The power to elect the President of the United States lies with the States and the People, not Congress. Specifically each State ‘shall appoint, in such Manner as the (State) Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors’ and ‘the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President.’ It is time for Congress to count the electoral votes from each State and fulfill our Constitutional duty.
“I cannot and will not unconstitutionally insert Congress into the Presidential election in this manner. This would amount to stealing power from the People and the States. It would, in effect, replace the Electoral College with Congress, and strengthen the efforts of those who are determined to eliminate it or render it irrelevant.
“At this point, all States have certified their election results and electors and alleged irregularities have been taken to State and Federal court over five dozen times and rejected, even by judges appointed by President Trump.
“I even signed on to an amicus brief to the Supreme Court of the United States asking the Justices to examine the election changes made by several States and determine if they went beyond the scope of the Constitution’s State legislative requirements. The Supreme Court made a ruling and rejected the merits of our filing in an exceptionally expeditious manner.
“Although some States needlessly injected controversy into this year’s election by making last minute ballot changes and casting doubt over the management and integrity of their election process, that controversy must be decided either by the States themselves, or the Supreme Court. Both avenues have been tried, the legal process followed, and with that comes a finality that Congress and our nation must respect.
“While I may not like the outcome of the election, that does not mean I can, nor should I, try to usurp the powers of the individual States of our republic. To allow Congress to alter the decided outcome of the election would irreparably damage our system of government and defy the Constitution. It is for these reasons I will not support any objection to the certification of electoral college results.”