If Vice President Mike Pence decides not to attend Wednesday’s U.S. Senate debate over counting the electoral college votes, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley will preside instead over what promises to be a bitter, partisan battle. Grassley, a Republican, is senate president pro tempore.
“I’m going to be sitting in the chair listening to what all of my colleagues have to say during that debate,” Grassley says, “and at that time will decide how to cast my vote after considering all of the information before me.”
Some Republicans plan to challenge the results of the electoral college vote, claiming there’s widespread election fraud and President Trump is the true winner. Grassley says the move by fellow Republicans is perfectly legitimate.
“First of all, it’s a legal process under the law and under the Constitution, for these folks to do what they’re doing,” Grassley says. “It was done by the Democrats in 2004 and I think one other time. People that are finding fault with Republicans doing it shouldn’t do it when it’s done by Democrats.”
He says it follows the same procedure as in 2004 when Democrats objected to certifying President George W. Bush’s election, particularly the electoral votes from Ohio. Grassley says this is an important issue and it merits an open discussion.
“It gives an opportunity for the entire country to hear during two hours of debate the pros and cons of fraud in the election,” Grassley says, “and whether or not the election was conducted correctly.” Grassley says the debate “gets lost when the social media platforms don’t carry it.”
University of Northern Iowa political science professor Donna Hoffman says the expected challenge by Republicans will almost certainly fail.
Hoffman says, “And it’s all really very symbolic in many ways, because at the end of the day, we would put the odds at something happening here, where Joe Biden is not certified here, as very, very, very minute.” Hoffman says it may be wise for Iowa’s Republican representatives to “hide in the corner” to see how politics may change after President Trump’s loss.
“There’s a lot of time that passes before even the next midterm election when, of course, all of them will be up, and certainly two more years before the next presidential election,” Hoffman says. “The conditions right now in this country, related both to elections but also in terms of governing, is extremely fluid.” Hoffman says focusing on constituent services may be the best bet for Iowa’s freshmen House Republicans, who are in the minority.
A retiring Congressman from Michigan announced Monday he’s quitting the Republican Party and becoming an Independent. Paul Mitchell is calling the effort to overturn the presidential election “disgusting and demoralizing.”
(Iowa Public Radio’s Kate Payne contributed to this report.)