By Arul Louis
New York, Jan 6 (IANS) The US Congress has launched the final stage of the confirmation of Joe Biden as the next President and Kamala Harris as the Vice President while President Donald Trump vowed he would “never concede” and his supporters in Congress prepared to challenge the electoral college votes.
Before the Congress met on Wednesday, Trump addressed a rally of his supporters in Washington. “This year, they rigged an election. They rigged it like they’ve never rigged an election before,” he told his supporters heightening tensions and setting the stage for the challenges inside Congress.
Washington has activated the National Guard to help maintain law and order while many businesses have put wooden boards on their windows in case there is violence from the supporters and opponents of Trump who have massed.
Vice President Mike Pence is presiding over the joint session of Congress called to count the votes of the electoral college which elected Biden and Harris last month and approve the tally to ensure the transfer of power on January 20.
Pence has turned down Trump’s requests to block the certifying of the electoral college’s votes, saying in a statement before the session that he did not have the constitutional authority for it.
Trump and his supporters have failed in over 50 cases they brought in courts at various levels alleging electoral fraud and they view this as the last chance to question the legitimacy of the election.
The challenges from Trump’s supporters are only meant to be symbolic and disruptive because the Democrats have a majority in the House of Representatives and although for now the Republicans have a majority in the Senate, the party’s leaders in the body have refused to back Trump’s supporters.
After the votes by the different states are tallied at the joint session and objections are made, the House and Senate will meet separately discuss the objections.
While the time allotted for the discussions is two hours in the House, the process could drag on if that time is allowed for each of the states for which objections have been made. The Senate can set its own time limits and formats for dealing with the objections.
The joint session will reconvene after the two legislative bodies finish dealing with the objections to complete the process of certifying the electoral college votes.
The US presidential elections are conducted indirectly with the voters electing members of the electoral college who would vote for president.
Biden won 306 electoral college votes, in addition to getting 81.2 million popular votes to Trump’s 232 electoral college votes and 74.2 million popular votes.
Trump won the 2016 election by getting a majority in the electoral college, where the votes allocated to proportionately to states, despite Hillary Clinton getting more popular votes.
The challenge to election is from a small group of Republican members of Congress led by Republican Senator Ted Cruz.
By Arul Louis