U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, other Pa. House Republicans pledge to oppose Electoral College tally
In what is almost certain to be another doomed effort to disenfranchise the votes of millions of Pennsylvania residents, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly is taking his unending challenge of the results of the presidential election to the halls of Congress.
The Butler Republican, whose 16th Congressional District includes Erie, said in a statement on Thursday that he and other GOP House members from Pennsyvania intend to vote against the certification of Pennsylvania's 20 electors when Congress tallies the votes of the Electoral College on Wednesday — a tally meant to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's defeat of President Donald Trump in the Electoral College by a vote of 306 to 232.
Kelly's attempt to upend the results of the Nov. 3 election — and undermine the standing of the Democrat Biden — at the Capitol comes after he failed to invalidate the election results in Pennsylvania by suing in the Pennsylvania appellate courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. Kelly wants the courts to toss the state's 2.5 million mail-in ballots, which favored Biden.
Kelly's promised move before Congress is the latest example of his political fealty to Trump, who, along with other Republicans, has made baseless claims of widespread election fraud that have also gained no traction in the courts.
Congress' tally of the Electoral College votes is typically formality, and any Republican attempt to challenge the votes in the House is all but certain to collapse due to that chamber's Democratic majority.
One Republican in the U.S. Senate, Josh Hawley, of Missouri, was the first to announce, this past Wednesday, that he will object this coming Wednesday to the certification of the electoral votes because of election procedures in some states, "particularly Pennsylvania." Eleven other Republican senators announced on Saturday that they also plan to object.
If Hawley, another Trump ally, and the others follow through and sign on to a House objection, it would force the two chambers to split for up to two hours during next week’s joint special session to debate and vote on the objection, according to USA Today.
The effort, however, is doomed to fail in the Democratic-controlled House and even in the Senate, where Republican leaders led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have warned colleagues not to challenge the Electoral College vote.
But the challenges of Kelly and other Republican House lawmakers, including U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson, of Centre County, whose previous congressional istrict included parts of Erie County, will draw out the certification process in Congress and add to Trump's unfounded claims that the presidential election was rigged against him. Kelly, Thompson and other Republican House members from Pennsylvania issued the statement on Thursday in which they said they will challenge Congress' certification of Pennsylvania's electoral votes.
A total of eight of the nine Republican House member from Pennsylvania said they will challenge the certification. Other U.S. representatives who support Thursday's statement are Dan Meuser, 9th Dist.; Scott Perry, 10th Dist.; Lloyd Smucker, 11th Dist.; Guy Reschenthaler, 14th Dist.; John Joyce, 13th Dist., and Fred Keller, 12th Dist. U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican whose 1st Congressional District includes Bucks County, did not support the statement.
Kelly and the others on Thursday claimed that the Electoral College results in Pennsylvania, in which Biden defeated Trump by 80,500 votes and took the state's 20 electoral votes, are invalid for myriad reasons. They include that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowed mail-in votes to be accepted after Nov. 3. Kelly is also claiming that certified poll watchers were prevented from overseeing the canvassing of ballots in Philadelphia.
"These unlawful actions were taken without the authority or consent of the Pennsylvania state legislature. These are facts, and they are indisputable," Kelly and other Republican House members from Pennsylvania said in the statement.
Kelly and the others also blame the administration of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, and "what has been described as a rogue Pennsylvania Supreme Court" saying they both "exceeded and circumvented the state legislature's clear constitutional authority" regarding the election.
Kelly does not mention that, in his attempt to get the state's 2.5 million mail-in ballots disqualified, he lost unanimously both before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which has five Democrats and two Republicans, and the U.S. Supreme Court, where conservatives justices are in the majority. None of Trump's three Supreme Court appointees — Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — sided with Kelly.
Widespread irregularities in the election in Pennsylvania and elsewhere have been debunked. Before he left office last week, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, one of Trump's most fervent supporters in Washington, said the Justice Department uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.
Justice Department findings:Barr, disputing Trump, says no widespread election fraud
Kelly sees things differently.
Citing the supposed deficiencies, such as the acceptance of mail-in ballots after Nov. 3, Kelly in the statement said "the state's official certification of electors was based upon a flawed system and an inaccurate vote count. Thus, very possibly resulting in an erroneous certification.
“Until these unlawful practices are acknowledged and corrected, we cannot agree to support electors chosen based upon an inaccurate total vote count," the statement said. "The voters of Pennsylvania deserve integrity in the election process and equal protection under the law."
Kelly is still asking the U.S. Supreme Court to declare mail-in voting in Pennsylvania unconstitutional, though the justices have not said whether they will even agree to hear the case.
As he waits on a decision from the Supreme Court, Kelly this week took the rare step of breaking with Trump. Kelly on Monday voted against Trump's demand that Congress increase the amount of the new COVID-19 stimulus checks to $2,000 from $600. Kelly said he shared Trump's concerns about "wasteful" spending in the $900 billion coronavirus relief bill that Congress passed on Dec. 21 and that includes the $600 checks.
Kelly voted for the $900 billion bill, and his official statement after that vote never raised concerns about wasteful spending.