Get Ready for One of the Most Important Weeks in American Politics

Get Ready for One of the Most Important Weeks in American Politics

While the rest of America is trying to recover from the winter holidays, the first week of January 2021 may be one of the most critical weeks ever in American politics. America’s fate may lay in the votes of American politicians between January 3 and January 7.

New Representatives Oath Taking

The first change will occur on January 3, when the newly elected senators and representatives are sworn into office. Typically, the entire house or senate joins together to watch this solemn occasion, but Nancy Pelosi has said that will not happen in the house this year. Instead, the number of people allowed on the House of Representatives floor at any one time will be limited to 72 so that everyone can socially distance. Therefore, the swearing-in ceremonies will take place in shifts. l

Most Senators Sworn into Office

The Senate will also look different on January 3. Since Georgia did not elect any senator by a majority, they will hold a runoff election on January 5. Until that election is certified, the Senate will be split 48-48 with Vice President Mike Pence to decide if there should be any ties.

Decide Rules for Electoral College Acceptance or Rejection

Within a very short time of being sworn into office, the officials will decide under what rules they want to accept or reject the electoral college results. While the senators and representatives usually act under the Electoral Court Act, that law has a lot of leeway built into it. Congress will need to pass a concurrent resolution, which typically starts in the Senates Rules Committee, chaired by Republican Senator Roy Blunt from Missouri. Typically, the rules state that the vice president presides over the reading. They also usually say that the reading of each state will be separetely in alphabetical order.

Challenging the Electoral College Vote

While Congress can do almost anything that they want when writing the rules on January 3, traditionally, you can expect them to require one senator and one representative to jointly say that they are unwilling to accept the electoral college's votes.

Electoral College Objections

Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri has said that he would object to accepting the votes. A group of over 30 representatives has indicated that they will not accept the votes.

Debate in Chambers

Once the politicians place the objection in writing in both the house and the senate, each chamber will adjoin to their meeting place. Each person will speak for five minutes to indicate why they agree or disagree with the objection. Noone can present evidence at this time. While everyone can be present in the chambers, things will look different, at least on the representative side. Nancy Pelosi has said that representatives will practice social distancing by sitting on the floor, in the press area and where visitors usually sit.

Broad Authority to Set Own Rules

While this is the usual process, Congress is not mandated to follow them. Vice President Pence may choose to introduce a new ballot of alternate slates of presidential electors. The lawmakers may pass limiting Pence’s power. Pence may excuse himself and let Charles Grassley take over the proceedings.

Whose Ballots Will be Read?

Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas may be setting the tone for things to come. He sued Vice President Pence demanding the vice president announce Trump the victor. According to the lawsuit, the 12th Amendment gives Pence power to declare who won the election. The lawsuit contends that the Electoral Counting Act is unconstitutional.

Hand Over Ballots to Four Readers

Once Vice President Pence opens the ballots on January 6, the Electoral Count Act requires him to hand over the ballots to four readers. Two are from the house and two from the senate. Once they read the ballots, then Pence asks for objections.

Congress Reconvenes

Then, congress would reconvene, but COVID has changed this step, but no one is sure until January 3 when the lawmakers pass their resolution exactly how. Typically, all 535 members would be in the House of Representatives chamber, but that is impractical while maintaining social distancing. You can expect to hear more about this issue with no one, including Pelosi, suggesting what they would like to see as an alternative.

All the power to decide the presidency of the U.S. now lies in the hands of Congress during the first week of January.

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