Texas Sen. Ted Cruz on Saturday said he will spearhead a drive by nearly a dozen Republican senators to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory when Electoral College results are tallied in Congress on Jan. 6.
Cruz’s effort is in defiance of Senate Republican leaders, who have argued that the Senate’s role in certifying the election is largely ceremonial and had been looking to avoid an extended debate on the floor about the outcome.
The move is expected to be largely symbolic with little chance of preventing Biden from taking office, and is seen as a bid by Cruz to cement the support of President Trump’s loyal followers in preparation for his own presidential run in 2024.
In a statement, Cruz and the other 10 senators said they intend to vote to reject electors from swing states that have been at the center of Trump’s unproven assertions of election fraud. They said Congress should immediately appoint a commission to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of election results in those states.
“Once completed, individual states would evaluate the commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed,” they said.
The Trump campaign has so far lost over 60 court challenges to the election results, including two cases before the Supreme Court, but the President continues to claim that he won the election.
Biden’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He is set to be sworn into office on Jan. 20.
The push for an audit is a “political stunt” that will not affect the outcome of the election, said Derek Muller, a law professor at the University of Iowa. Muller said that, while the 1887 law governing how lawmakers validate the election is murky, most scholars believe that Congress lacks the legal authority to require an audit.
The effort by Cruz and other Republicans comes days after Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri became the first sitting member of the Senate to announce he would challenge the election result. A number of Republicans in the House of Representatives also plan on contesting the vote tally.
Cruz was joined in the statement by Senators Ron Johnson, James Lankford, Steve Daines, John Kennedy, Marsha Blackburn, Mike Braun, along with Senators-elect Cynthia Lummis, Tommy Tuberville, Bill Hagerty, and Roger Marshall, all of whom will be sworn in as senators on Sunday in the new Congress.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, acknowledged Biden’s victory on Dec. 15 and has urged other Senate Republicans to refrain from objecting on Jan. 6.
In Cruz’s statement, the senators said they did not necessarily expect their gambit to succeed.
“We are not naïve. We fully expect most if not all Democrats, and perhaps more than a few Republicans, to vote otherwise,” they said.
Reuters contributed to this article.