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Romney, Collins among senators rejecting election certification challenge

U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has condemned a

U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has condemned a planned move by at least 12 of his Republican colleagues to oppose certification of Joe Biden's presidential election win. Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite

A bipartisan group of senators on Sunday urged Congress to "fulfill its responsibility" by certifying the presidential election results on Wednesday, as a coalition of 12 GOP senators planned to oppose the process.

Eleven U.S. senators have signed onto a letter calling for a bipartisan electoral commission to investigate unfounded allegations of voter fraud, while Missouri U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley has separately said he will object to certifying at least one state's electors.

The extraordinary move by the group of Republican senators comes after each state had certified its election results, and after the electors cast ballots in December in each state's Electoral College. The Biden-Harris ticket defeated President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence by an electoral vote margin of 306 to 232.

The senators have not been able to substantiate any claims of widespread voter fraud. Lawsuits brought on by Trump's campaign have been dismissed in federal and state courts.

On Sunday, a group of 10 senators, including four Republicans, five Democrats, and one independent, issued a statement urging their colleagues to "move forward."

The group included Republican U.S. Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

"The 2020 election is over. All challenges through recounts and appeals have been exhausted. At this point, further attempts to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 Presidential election are contrary to the clearly expressed will of the American people and only serve to undermine Americans' confidence in the already determined election results," the statement read.

"The voters have spoken, and Congress must now fulfill its responsibility to certify the election results. In two weeks, we will begin working with our colleagues and the new Administration on bipartisan, common sense solutions to the enormous challenges facing our country. It is time to move forward."

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who signed onto the letter committing to challenge the election certification, defended his colleagues' view Sunday during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"We are not acting to thwart the democratic process, we're acting to protect it," Johnson said. "We have an unsustainable state of affairs in this country where we have tens of millions of people that do not view this election result as legitimate."

Johnson said Congress should act quickly to organize a bipartisan commission to review allegations.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who plans to oppose certification, said Sunday that he was looking to precedent set to resolve the election of 1876.

A congressional commission reviewed claims of voter fraud in the election between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes, who went on to become president.

"We ought to have a fair inquiry, a fair audit into these results, and we ought to resolve these claims, not just dismiss them out of hand," Cruz said on Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a supporter of Trump's, said on Twitter that his colleagues' plan was likely to fail.

"Proposing a commission at this late date — which has zero chance of becoming reality — is not effectively fighting for President Trump," Graham wrote. "It appears to be more of a political dodge than an effective remedy."

On Saturday, Romney described efforts by Cruz and colleagues as "nonsense."

Romney, who was the Republican nominee for president in 2012, immediately conceded to President Barack Obama on election night after results showed Romney had lost.

The senators' attempt was an "egregious ploy" that "may enhance the political ambition of some," Romney said in a statement.

He continued: "My fellow Senator Ted Cruz and the co-signers of his statement argue that rejection of electors or an election audit directed by Congress would restore trust in the election. Nonsense. This argument ignores the widely perceived reality that Congress is an overwhelmingly partisan body; the American people wisely place greater trust in the federal courts where judges serve for life. Members of Congress who would substitute their own partisan judgment for that of the courts do not enhance public trust, they imperil it."

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