Congress made President-elect Donald Trump’s victory official Friday, meeting in joint session to tally electoral votes ahead of Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
The final count was 304 to 227, with two “faithless” Republican electors having chosen candidates other than Trump when they cast their ballots last month. Five Democratic electors broke with their party’s nominee, Hillary Clinton.
A handful of House Democrats raised objections to ballots cast for Trump and running mate Mike Pence, but without the support of a single senator, their efforts were futile.
Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) raised the first objections Friday after the joint meeting was gaveled to order. They were among several House Democrats who considered lodging objections on grounds of “voter suppression” or apparent Russian interference in the campaign. But they were hampered by the fact that federal law demands that any objection be sponsored by both a House member and a senator.
Because neither objection was signed by a senator, Vice President Biden, who presided over the tally, ruled them out of order.
“It is over,” Biden said to Jayapal’s objection, prompting Republican lawmakers to rise in cheers and applause.
Only five non-Republican senators attended the tally — Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Angus King (I-Maine), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.). At one point, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) implored one of them to join her objection. “Just one,” she exclaimed. None acknowledged her.
Even if a Democratic senator had joined an objection, it would have been all but impossible to affect the final result, though it could have delayed the process. An objection would prompt each house of Congress to meet to resolve the objection; Republicans control both houses and could have quickly voted to overrule them. That happened in 2005, when Democrats objected to President George W. Bush’s win in Ohio.
Just before the count concluded, three protesters were removed from the House gallery. “One person, one vote,” one shouted as he was removed by Capitol Police.
Jayapal, a first-term lawmaker who was sworn in Tuesday, said she wasn’t upset that Biden had shut down her objections.
“He’s trying to keep order; I understand,” she said. “I take it a badge of honor that my Republican colleagues gave me a standing ovation for my first speech.”