tv U.S. Senate Debate on Objection to Arizona Electoral Votes CSPAN January 7, 2021 5:01am-5:47am EST
he democratic leader be allowed to speak and that following their remarks, the majority leader and the democratic leader each control up to one hour of debate time and be authorized to yield up to five minutes of this time to any senator seeking recognition. further, i ask unanimous consent that the senators be permitted to insert statements into the record. the vice president: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. mcconnell: mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: we're debating a step that has never been taken in american history. whether congress should overrule the voters and overturn a presidential election. i've served 36 years in the senate. this will be the most important
vote i've ever cast. president trump claims the election was stolen. the assertions range from specific local allegations to constitutional arguments to sweeping conspiracy theories. i supported the president's right to use the legal system, dozens of lawsuits received hearings in courtrooms all across our country, but over and over, the courts rejected these claims, including all-star judges whom the president himself has nominated. every election we know features some illegality and
irregularity, and of course that's unacceptable. i support strong state-led voting reforms. last year's bizarre pandemic procedures must not become the new norm. but my colleagues, nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale, the massive scale that would have tipped the entire election. nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence. the constitution gives us here in congress a limited role. we cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of
elections on steroids. the voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken. they've all spoken. if we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever. this election actually was not unusually close. just in recent history, 1976, 2000, and 2004 were all closer than this one. the electoral college margin is almost identical to what it was
in 2016. if this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral. we would never see the whole nation accept an election again. every four years would be a scramble for power at any cost. the electoral college, which most of us on this side have been defending for years, would cease to exist. leaving many of our states with no real say at all in choosing a president. the effects would go even beyond the elections themselves.
self-government, my colleagues, requires a shared commitment to the truth and a shared respect for the ground rules of our system. we cannot keep drifting apart into two separate tribes with a separate set of facts and separate realities. with nothing in common except our hostility towards each other and mistrust for the few national institutions that we all still share. every time, every time in the last 30 years that democrats have lost a presidential race, they have tried to challenge just like this. after 2000, after 2004, after
2016. after 2004, a senator joined and forced the same debate, and believe it or not, democrats like harry reid, dick durbin, and hillary clinton praised, praised and applauded the stunt. republicans condemned those baseless efforts back then, and we just spent four years condemning democrats' shameful attacks on the validity of president trump's own election. so look, there can be no double standard. the media that is outraged today spent four years aiding and abetting democrats' attacks on our institutions after they lost. but we must not imitate and escalate what we repudiate.
our duty is to govern for the public good. the united states senate has a higher calling than an endless spiral of partisan vengeance. congress will either override the voters, overrule them, the voters, the states, and the courts for the first time ever, or honor the people's decision. we'll either guarantee democrats' delegitimizing efforts after 2016 become a permanent new routine for both sides or declare that our nation deserves a lot better than this. we'll either hasten down a poisonous path where only the winners of an election actually accept the results or show we can still muster the patriotic
courage that our forebears showed not only in victory but in defeat. the framers built the senate to stop short-term passions from boiling over and melting the foundations of our republic. so i believe protecting our constitutional order requires respecting the limits of our own power. it would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise american voters and overrule the courts and the states on this extraordinarily thin basis. and i will not pretend such a vote would be a harmless protest gesture while relying on others to do the right thing.
i will vote to respect the people's decision and defend our system of government as we know it. the vice president: the democratic leader. mr. schumer: mr. president, vice president. as prescribed by the constitution and the laws of the nation, the purpose of this joint session is for tellers, appointed on a bipartisan basis by the two houses, to read to the congress the results of an election that has already happened. we are here to receive an announcement of a vote that has already been certified by every state in the union and confirmed by the courts many times, many
times over. we are here to watch the current vice president open envelopes and receive the news of a verdict that has already been rendered. it is a solemn and august occasion, no doubt, but it is a formality. the congress does not determine the outcome of elections. the people do. the congress is not endowed with the power to administer elections. our states are given that power. by the end of the proceedings today, it will be confirmed once again something that is well known and well settled -- the american people elected joe biden and kamala harris to be the next president and vice president of the united states. and yet, a number of our colleagues have organized an effort to undermine and object to that free and fair election.
they are in the minority. they will lose. they know that. they have no evidence of widespread voter fraud upon which to base their objections. that's because there is none. there is none. not brought before any of the courts successfully. they know that president trump and his allies have suffered the defeat -- a defeat in court after court across the country, losing no fewer than 62 legal challenges. and i might add, many republican-appointed judges, some appointed by president trump, rendered those decisions. they know, you all know that joe biden and kamala harris are going to be sworn in as president and vice president of the united states on january 20.
but they are going to object to the counting of the vote anyway, and in the process, they will embarrass themselves, they will embarrass their party, and worst of all, they will embarrass their country. this insurrection was fortunately discouraged by the leadership of the majority party, but it was not quelled. it is a very sad comment on our times that merely accepting the results of an election is considered an act of political courage. sadder and more dangerous still is the fact that an element of the republican party believes their political viability hinges on the endorsement of an attempted coup.
that anyone, much less an elected official, would be willing to tarnish our democracy in order to burnish their personal political fortunes. over the course of the afternoon and however far into the evening this band of republican objectors wants to take us, senators of goodwill from both sides of the aisle will explain why these challenges must be dismissed. the senators from states whose electoral votes are being challenged will explain how the allegations of fraud are baseless. and a substantial bipartisan majority must vote to put down these objections and defend the sanctity of our elections and indeed, and indeed our great and grand democracy. because that's what we're talking about today.
the health of our democracy. this wonderful, beautiful, grand democracy where the peaceful passing of the torch is extolled by school children in the second grade but not by some here. as we speak, after of our voters are being conditioned by the outgoing president to believe that when his party loses an election, the results must not be legitimate. as we speak, the eyes of the world are on this chamber questioning whether america is still the shinning example of democracy, the shinning city on the hill. what message we send today, what -- what message will we send today to our people, to the world that has so looked up to
us for centuries? what message will we send to fledgling democracies who study our constitution, mirror our laws and traditions in the hopes that they too can build a country ruled by the consent of the governorred. what message will we send to those countries where democratic values are under assault and look to us see if those values are still worth fighting for? what message will we send to every dark corner of the world where human rights are betrayed, elections are stolen, human dignity denied? what will we show those people? will we show those people that there's a better way to ensure liberty and opportunity of humankind? sadly, a small band of
republican objectors may darken the view of our democracy today, but a larger group of senators and house members from both sides of the aisle can send a message too. that democracy beats deep in the hearts of our citizens and our elected representatives, that we are a country of laws and of not men, that our traditions are not so easily discarded, even by our president, that facts matter, that truth matters. that while democracy allows free speech and free expression, even if that expression is anti-democratic, there will always -- always be, praise god, a far broader and stronger coalition ready to push back and defend everything we hold dear. we can send that message today by voting in large and overwhelming numbers to defeat these objections.
my colleagues, we each swore an oath just three days ago that we would defend and support the constitution of the united states against all enemies foreign and domestic, that we would bear true faith and allegiance to the same. we swore that we took this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion and that we could well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office we were about to enter so help us god. the precise words of that oath were shortly written after the civil war when the idea of true faith and allegiance to this country and its constitution took on enormous meaning. let those words -- let those words ring in the ears of every
senator today. let us do our duty to support and defend the constitution of the united states so help us god. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i yield up to five minutes to the senator from texas, senator cruz. mr. cruz: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator. mr. cruz: we gather together at a moment of great division, at a moment of great passion. we have seen and no doubt will continue to see a great deal of moralizing from both sides of the aisle. but i would urge to both sides perhaps a bit less servitude and a bit more recognition that we are gathered at a time when
democracy is in crisis. recent polling shows that 39% of americans believe the election that just occurred, quote, was rigged. you may not agree with that assessment, but it is nonetheless a reality for nearly half the country. i would note it is not just republicans who believe that. 31% of independents agree with that statement. 17% of democrats believe the election was rigged. even if you do not share that conviction, it is the responsibility, i believe of this office, to acknowledge that is a profound threat to this country and to the legitimacy of any administrations that will come in tt future. -- in the future. i want to take a moment to speak
to my democratic colleagues. i understand your guy is winning right now. if democrats vote as a block, joe biden will almost certainly be certified as the next president of the united states. i want to speak to the republicans who are considering voting against these objections. i understand your concerns, but i urge you to pause and think, what does it say to the nearly half the country that believes this election was rigged if we vote not even to consider the claims of ill legality and fraud in this election? and i believe there's a better way. the leaders just spoke about setting aside the election. let me be clear, i'm not arguing for setting aside this election. all of us are faced with two choices. one choice is vote against the
election and tens of millions of americans will see a vote against the objection as a statement that voter fraud doesn't matter, isn't real and shouldn't be taken seriously. and a great many of us don't believe that. on the other hand, most, if not all of us, believe we should not set aside the results of an election just because our candidate may not have prevailed. and so i endeavor to look for door number three, a third option, and for that i look to history, to the president of the 1876 election, the hayes-tilden election where this congress appointed an ee loacorral -- electoral commission to ex am voter -- examine the evidence and rendered a judgment. what i would urge of this body is that we do the same. that we appoint an electoral commission to conduct a 10-day emergency audit. consider the evidence and
resolve the claims. for those on the democratic aisle who say there is no evidence, they've been rejected, then you should rest in comforts, in -- if that is the case an electoral judgment would rest those claims. but simply telling the voters, go jump in a lake. the fact that you have deep concerns is of no moment to us, that jeopardizes, i believe, the legitimacy of this and subsequent elections. the constitution gives to congress the responsibility this day to count the votes, the framers knew what they were doing when they gave responsibilities to congress. we have a responsibility, and i would urge that we follow the precedent of 1877, the electoral count act explicitly allows elections such as this one for votes not regularly given.
this objection is for the state of arizona, but it is broader than that. it is an objection for all six of the states to have a impartial body, hear the evidence and make a conclusive determination. that would benefit both sides. that would improve legitimacy of this election and so let me urge my colleagues, all of us take our responsibility seriously. i would urge my colleagues, don't take perhaps the easy path, but instead act together, astonish the viewers and act in a bipartisan sense to say we will have a credible and fair tribunal, consider the claims, consider the facts, consider the evidence and make a conclusive determination whether and to what extent this election complied with the constitution and with federal law.
the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i first would like to say i appreciate the words of our leader, senator schumer, as well as senator mcconnell's call for a higher calling. january 6 is not typically a day for historical day. this is simply a day we receive each state's certified electoral votes and it has come and gone without much fanfare. this is the third time in 120 years that the senate has gathered to debate an objection and as senator cruz well knows, both times these objections were resoundingly defeated. the last time the vote was 74-1. why? because senators have long believed they should not mess around with the will of the people. they have understood the words of our great former colleague
john mccain from the state of arizona who once said that nothing in life is more liberating than to fight for a cause larger than yourself. in this case, my colleagues are caught despite our political differences, is to preserve our american democracy, to preserve our republic because as someone once said long ago, it's a republic if you can keep it. now, i appreciate all of my democratic and republican colleagues who have joined our ranks of coup fighters, who have stood up for our democracy, who stand tall for our republic and who believe in an ideal greater than ourselves, larger than our political parties, that ideal is america. senator cruz knows this on january 20, kamala harris and joe biden will be vice president and president and that they won
more votes. despite the unfounded conspiracy theories senator cruz touts, he knows that high-ranking officials in president trump's own homeland security department have concluded that the 2020 election was, quote, the most secure in american history. and if he wants to improve the numbers in his own party that he just mentioned of people believing in our elections, maybe he should start consulting with them or maybe he should start consulting with former attorney general barr who said that he has found no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. we don't have to go back to 1877, my colleague. senator cruz knows that 80 judges, including conservative judges, including judges confirmed in this chamber, nominated by president trump has thrown out the lawsuits calling them baseless, inadequate and contrary to the plain meaning of
the constitutional text and common sense. he knows all ten living defense secretaries, including both donald rumsfeld, william cohen, he knows these leaders have come together to say that these attacks on the democracy must stop and allow for a peaceful transition of power. senator sinema will tell us why this election was sound and true. president trump received 1,000,161,000 668 votes in the state, president-elect-elect biden won 1,000,001,12 votes meaning that he won the state by 10,000 votes. after arizona's republican governor, the secretary of state, the loarnl and the conservative chief justice of the arizona supreme court certified the results of the election, the governor actually said, we do elections well here
in arizona, the system is strong. each post-election lawsuits brought in arizona to challenge the results was dismissed by judges, nine members of the house from arizona were elected in the same election, including four republicans, i did not see senator cruz at the swearing in of the house of representatives asking for an audit. he did not stop their swearing in because there was no fraud. and he did not ask for an audit because we had a fair election. i will end with this. my friend roy blunt, my fellow rules committee leader many years ago found a statue, a bust of a man at the top of the book case. he did research and all he could find out is that no one knew who this guy was except that he was a cleric, hence the statue is called the unknown cleric.
at the time our leaders thought this man important enough that they would warrant a statue for him, but today no one knows who he is. senator blunt's message to school kids and senators alike that visit his office when he shows them the statue, what we do hear is more important than who we are. senators, what matters is not our futures, not our own short-term destinies, what matters is our democracy's destiny because i think many of us know that people will not know who we are 100 years from now or 200 years from now. but what they will know is this. they will know what we did today, how we voted today, and that is more important than who we are. it's a republic in we can keep it. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. the vice president: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: i yield up to five minutes to the senator from pennsylvania, senator toomey.
the vice president: the senator from pennsylvania tomb thank you, mr. president. i intend to address the specifics to pennsylvania if and when an objection is raised for pennsylvania. now i want to address my remarks to the fundamental question being posed by the objectors. mr. toomey: that is, does congress have the constitutional authority to decide which states' electoral college votes should be counted and which should not based on how well we think they ran their elections. this is what the objectors are really asking us to do, to federalize elections by rejecting electoral college votes from states whose processes they say they disapprove of, and thereby having congress select the president of the united states instead of the american people. the answer, mr. president, is no, there is no such authority under the constitution. the constitution assigns to the
states the responsibility to conduct elections. it's clear in article 2, section 1. it leaves courts with the responsibility to adjudicate disputes and assigns to congress the ministerial function of counting ballots except for extreme circumstances, such as when a state sends competing slates of electors to congress. which brings me to the 1877 precedent. some objectors claim to merely want a commission to conduct an audit and then let states decide whether to send different electors. first, the situations are not at all analogous. in 1877 congress had before it two slates of electors from several states. here there are no trump electors from swing states. there's just biden electors. second, legislatures from the swing states, they've already spoken. they've made their decision. they've chosen not to send us alternative electors. third, a commission. really? it's completely impractical and we all know it with 14 days to
go before our constitutional mandated inauguration. but look at it this way. if the objectors are right and it really is congress' job to sit in judgment on the worthiness of the states electoral processes, then what's the criteria for acceptable election processes? what investigations have been conducted of these processes? what body has deemed that certain states' processes are unacceptable. what opportunities were these states given to challenge the findings? why are the objectors objecting only to swing states that president trump lost. what about the ones he won? what with north carolina, california? they have ballot harvesting, i'm told. if this is all supposed to be congress' job, you would think we would have answers to these questions and procedures in place because we would have done this every four years, right? but we don't. because it's not our job. if we adopt this new precedent that we sit in judgment of states' processes, then we're federalizing the election law. we would necessarily have to
establish the per miserable criteria and rules for the states' elections. the ballot harvesting, for example. it's illegal in some states. it's encouraged in others. does it become mandatory or forbidden depending on who is in control of congress? as the leader pointed out, it would be the end of the electoral college and the electoral college is the mechanism by which the people select the president. but if congress gets to decide which states get to vote in the electoral college, then clearly congress is selecting the president, not the people. whichever party controls both houses of congress would control the presidency. the public would never tolerate congress pick be the president instead of themselves so they abolish the electoral college as many of our colleagues would like to do and the end of the electoral college, of course, means the nation will be governed by a handful of big loose states and regions that can drum up very large numbers. mr. president, the constitution does not assign to congress the responsibility to judge the worthiness of state election
processes nor its adherence to its rules. that's the responsibility of the states and the courts. let me conclude with this. i voted for president trump. i publicly endorsed president trump. i campaigned for president trump. i did not want joe biden to win this election. there's something more important to me than having my preferred candidate sworn in as the next president. that's to have the american people's chosen candidate sworn in as the next president. a fundamental defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of the people to elect their own leaders. it's now our duty, our responsibility to ensure that that right is respected in this election and preserved for future elections. i urge you vote against this objection. the vice president: democratic leader. mr. schumer: mr. vice president. the senator from the great state of arizona, senator sinema.
the vice president: the senator from arizona. a senator: thank you, mr. president. i rise to speak about the recent election and urge my colleagues to step away from divisive political rhetoric and step towards renewing americans' faith in our democracy. ms. sinema: the 2020 arizona election was a success. not for any one party or individual but as a demonstration of the will of the voters. a record 80% of registered voters separated thanks to local arizona election officials who ensured our system worked and our laws were upheld. arizona has offered early voting for more than 100 years and our vote by mail system includes strict safeguards. all ballots include tracking mechanisms and tamper resistant envelopes. election staff are trained to authenticate signatures. and arizona imposes severe criminal punishments for ballot
tampering. the arizona election produced bipartisan results in which members of both parties won races and these results have been confirmed by stakeholders across the political spectrum. the republican chairman of the maricopa county board of supervisors said no matter how you voted, this election was administered with integrity, transparency, and in accordance with arizona state laws. the republican speaker of the arizona state house rejected calls for the legislature to overturn the election saying as a conservative republican, i don't like the results of the presidential election. but i cannot and will not entertain a suggestion that we violate current law to change the outcome. eight challenges contesting the arizona election were brought to federal and state courts. all eight were withdrawn or dismissed, including a unanimous ruling by the arizona supreme
court. the chief justice wrote, the challenge fails to present any evidence of misconduct or illegal votes let alone establish any degree of fraud or sufficient error rate that would undermine the certainty of the election results. during the recent committee hearing i asked a simple question of the former director of cybersecurity and infrastructure security. did he find any evidence disputing the integrity or fairness of arizona's election. his answer was simple. no. arizona and our 15 counties should be congratulated for running a secure election. perhaps the most heartening demonstration of arizona's election success is joslin from phoenix. scwos lynn is 18 years old and was a first-time voter in 2020. so was rachel from tucson and thousand more arizonans who for the first time exercised their constitutional right to decide their own leaders. today's challenge to arizona's
election fails any factual analysis. more disturbingly, it seeks to rob joslin and rachel and more than three million arizonans of a free, fair election. those of us who are trusted with elected office are first and foremost public servants. we serve our constituents. we do not seek to substitute our personal ambitions for the will of the american people. our system allows for a continuous contest of ideas and those voters who support the losing side of a free, fair election have not been disenfranchised. rather they maintain just as important a voice in america's future and leaders have a duty to serve all of our constituents, including those who voted for other candidates. great leaders in our history face the choice of whether to take an action strengthening our democracy, even if a different
action would better serve their political ambitions. many are revered today because they chose our republic over their self-interests, krug my -- including my personal hero senator john mccain. following his presidential loss, senator mccain said, the american people have spoken. senator obama and i have argued our differences and he has prevailed. whatever our differences, we are fellow americans. he spoke to the nearly 60 million americans who voted for him saying, it is natural tonight to feel some disappointment, but tomorrow we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again. senator mccain was right. today we have serious significant work to do. beating this pandemic and reviving our economy. i urge my colleagues to follow the example of senator john mccain and so many others.
reject this meritless challenge and uphold the will of arizona voters. thank you. the vice president: the majority leader. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, i yield up to five minutes to the senator from oklahoma, senator lankford. the vice president: the senator from oklahoma. mr. lankford: mr. president, in america we settle our differences in elections. what happens if you don't trust the election count or you're concerned so many courts denied or dismissed cases within hours after they were given thousands of pages of evidence? the reason we have a congress to settle our nation's divisions and the rules of the senate make sure that every opinion in the nation is heard is so issues like this can be addressed. the constitutional crisis in our country right now is that millions of americans are being told to sit down and shut up. their opinions matter.
during the electoral challenge on january 6, 2005, senator ted kennedy stood on this floor and said this. he said, i commend the many thousands of citizens in massachusetts and other states who insisted on treating today's electoral vote count in congress as a meaningless ritual would be an insult to our democracy unless we register our own protest against the obviously flawed voting process that took place in so many states. we are hopeful, he said, that this major issue that goes to the heart of our democracy is now firmly inplanted on the agenda for effective action by congress. end quote. i agree. the united states constitution does not allow me to assign different electors to a state, nor should it. the united states constitution does not give the option to the vice president of the united states to unilaterally decide which states are in and out and
it should not. each state decides its electors through its people. but a small group of senator, including myself, have demanded that we not ignore the questions that millions of people are asking in our nation. so we have proposed a constitutional solution. pause the count. get more facts to the states before january 20. we proposed a 15-member commission just like what was done after the failed election of 1876. we're encouraging people to spend ten days going through all the issues so states can have one last opportunity to address any challenges. then the states as the constitution directs, would make the final decision on their electors. i have some colleagues who have said that a ten-day commission is not enough time so they have counterproposed just ignoring the lingering questions. we need to do something.
my challenge today is not about the good people of arizona -- mr. grassley: we'll stand in recess until the call of the chair. the vice president: the senate will come to order. the vice president is present, and the senate would like to give a brief statement with the indulgence of the here providing over the senate.e here providing