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LI GOP Reps quiet on how they'll vote on election certification

Rep. Lee Zeldin speaks at Brookhaven National Laboratory

Rep. Lee Zeldin speaks at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Sept. 18, 2020. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

WASHINGTON — Republican Long Island Reps. Lee Zeldin and Andrew Garbarino have not declared yet if they will heed President Donald Trump’s pleas to lawmakers to try to upend President-elect Joe Biden’s victory by objecting to state Electoral College votes Wednesday.

A dozen Republican senators and possibly 100 or more GOP House members said they will challenge a half-dozen states' electoral slates to try to erode Biden’s 306 Electoral College votes, a move that has divided party members and its congressional leadership.

Zeldin, the fourth-term Republican from Shirley, applauded the two hours of debate that the objections will require but did not say if he would sign on to the written objections or if he would vote for or against them after the debate.

"On January 6th, there will be a thorough debate on concerns of election integrity in key battleground states in an effort to ensure the sanctity of our great republic," Zeldin said in a statement. "It's time for an all around honest conversation about what just took place."

Garbarino, the Bayport assemblyman who was sworn in for his first term as a congressman Sunday, said in a phone interview that he planned to review all documents on the issue from the House GOP leadership before deciding what to do.

"I want to see the facts," Garbarino said. "I want to see what is before me, before making up my mind." He added, "This is a big, big decision, just like every vote in Congress, so you want to make sure that you have all the facts."

Trump has pressed congressional Republicans via his Twitter account for weeks to object to the Electoral College votes and has invited his supporters to protest in the nation’s capital on Wednesday.

Trump lost to Biden by more than 7 million popular votes and 72 Electoral College votes, but he continues to allege election fraud even after state and federal judges, citing lack of evidence, dismissed dozens of Trump campaign lawsuits seeking to throw out millions of ballots.

Democrats representing Long Island in the U.S. House denounced the Republican effort to challenge election results that already have been certified by all 50 states.

"There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Any effort to undermine this legitimate election is an effort to destroy American democracy," said Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), a former prosecutor.

"The Republicans in the House and Senate participating in this ploy should be ashamed of themselves," Rice said.

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) called the effort "sad" and "inappropriate," adding that it will ultimately "go nowhere."

Democrats hold a majority in the U.S. House and are unlikely to vote in favor of any attempt to invalidate the election results.

Suozzi, an early Biden endorser, said that despite the partisan tensions on Capitol Hill surrounding Wednesday’s vote, he believes Biden "will surprise everybody with how effectively he pulls people together."

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) in a recent tweet derided the effort as "Republicans trying to overthrow an election."

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