Josh Hawley Challenges Pat Toomey to a Senate Debate Over Election Integrity

Josh Hawley Challenges Pat Toomey to a Senate Debate Over Election Integrity
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Dec. 18, 2019. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Bill Pan

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Saturday night fired back at criticism from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.), challenging him to a debate on the Senate floor over irregularities in the presidential election.

Hawley, who is part of an effort to oppose the certification of the Electoral College votes, sent an email to the Senate GOP Conference Saturday night, saying that Toomey was "making unfounded claims about the intentions of our fellow Senators."

In the email, Hawley said that "very serious irregularities" have occurred on a "very large scale" during last year's election, including in Toomey's home state of Pennsylvania, where some election procedures were altered to enable mass scale mail-in voting.

"Instead of debating the issue of election integrity by press release, conference call or e-mail, perhaps we could have a debate on the Senate floor for all of the American people to judge," he wrote.

Toomey is one of the Senate Republicans objecting the initiative to refuse to certify the Electoral College votes unless there is "an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states." At least 11 incumbent and incoming Republican Senators, headed by Ted Cruz (R-Tx.), said they intend to vote on Jan. 6 to "reject the electors from disputed states as not regularly given and lawfully certified." In addition, some 140 House Republicans have also indicated that they may vote against counting the electoral votes.

"A fundamental, defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of the people to elect their own leaders," Toomey said Saturday in a statement. "The effort by Sens. Hawley, Cruz, and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in swing states like Pennsylvania directly undermines this right."

Toomey also dismissed his colleagues' claim that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden won Pennsylvania because of widespread election fraud.

"His narrow victory in Pennsylvania is easily explained by the decline in suburban support for President Trump and the president's slightly smaller victory margins in most rural counties," he said.

Toomey is joined by Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) in opposing to their colleagues' effort. They are also among a handful of Republicans who publicly congratulated Biden after he was projected by mainstream media as the winner of the White House race.

"The egregious ploy to reject electors may enhance the political ambition of some, but dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic," Romney said Saturday in response to the Hawley and Cruz initiative. "The congressional power to reject electors is reserved for the most extreme and unusual circumstances. These are far from it."