Whether any member of Mississippi’s congressional delegation will participate in a challenge of the election of Joe Biden as president when the U.S. House and Senate meet jointly on Jan. 6 is not clear.
Federal law gives House and Senate members the opportunity to challenge results of a presidential election on that date.
Some members of the delegation, such as Sen. Roger Wicker of Tupelo, the senior Republican member of the delegation, said after Monday’s vote of the electoral college affirming the Biden win that they reluctantly accept the results of the election.
But U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo of the 4th District, which encompasses much of south Mississippi, did not rule out participating in a challenge to the election, according to a statement he gave the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo.
“I do acknowledge the electoral college’s decision, and I also acknowledge the responsibility of Congress to certify the election results on Jan. 6,” Palazzo said. “In the coming weeks, I will continue evaluating the evidence presented by President Trump’s legal team and make a final decision on verifying the election results closer to Jan. 6.”
U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, whom Trump campaigned extensively for when she first won election to the post in 2018, has not commented since the electoral college vote. At one point, she was fund-raising on social media to help with Trump’s multiple, though unsuccessful, legal challenges.
Wicker voiced support soon after the Nov. 3 election for Trump’s efforts to look for instances of voter fraud but has remained quiet since then.
In a statement on Wednesday, Wicker told Mississippi Today, “The electoral college vote makes it clear that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States. I am obviously disappointed in the outcome, and I know many Mississippians feel the same way. Nevertheless, we must respect the constitutional process and move on.”
Rep. Michael Guest, who lives in Rankin County, said in a statement to Mississippi Today: “The electoral college has cast the final and deciding vote for Joe Biden. My prayers are with him as he prepares to assume the office of president of the United States.”
And Rep. Trent Kelly, who lives in Lee County and represents portions of north Mississippi told the Daily Journal in Tupelo: “It appears that Joe Biden is the president-elect. I have done exactly what I said I would do. I have supported President Trump and followed every possible legal remedy to ensure the election results are valid. At this time, there does not appear to be a viable and legal remedy left to pursue.
“Elections and the electoral college, as well as states’ right to certify the electorate, are an integral part of all our elections dating back to our founders. Although I do not like the results of the current election, the courts and the states have spoken. Unless there is an unforeseen, valid legal challenge, I intend to support the results of the electoral college.”
On Jan. 6, if both a senator and House member jointly agree to challenge the electoral votes from any states, then the two chambers separately debate the issue. But for the challenge to prevail, both chambers must approve it by a majority vote. With the Democrats maintaining a slim majority in the House, there does not appear to be an avenue for a successful challenge for the president.
Various Republican senators also have said they would not vote in support of a challenge that would have to invalidate the ballots in multiple states to be successful.
In addition, media reports have surfaced that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who like Wicker acknowledged Biden as the president-elect this week, has asked his caucus members not to participate in a challenge that would be unsuccessful and place his members in the position of having to make a difficult vote.
Trump and his allies have filed dozens of lawsuits challenging the election results. Those lawsuits have been rejected by judges appointed by both Democrats and Republicans, including judges appointed by Trump.
Kelly, Guest and Palazzo filed friend of the court briefs in support of the effort of Republican state attorneys general, including Lynn Fitch of Mississippi, to invalidate the results in four swing states won by Biden, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
That lawsuit was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.