“POLITICO Playbook PM: Deep dive: Electoral College on the Hill”

Interesting stuff on the VP here:

THE VP TYPICALLY presides over the certification in his role as the president of the Senate. JONATHAN SWAN from Axios had an excellent report this morning about how President DONALD TRUMP is turning on everyone, and how he would view MIKE PENCE certifying the results of the election as “the ultimate betrayal.”

WELL, PENCE DOESN’T HAVE TO if he doesn’t want to. If PENCE declines to show up, Sen. CHUCK GRASSLEY, the 87-year-old Iowa Republican who is president pro tempore of the Senate, does it in his place. No sweat, no problem.

IN 1969, HUBERT HUMPHREY declined to preside over the certification because he was the losing presidential candidate. So Deschler’s Precedents — which governs some of the instances that arise in the House — says this in Sec. 2.5 of chapter 10: “In the absence of the President of the Senate, the President pro tempore of the Senate presides over the joint session to count the electoral votes for President and Vice President.” This is the precedent that was set in 1969. (h/t this terrific CRS report about the process by which Congress will certify the Electoral College)

OF COURSE, declining to show up is probably as bad as showing up and certifying the results, in TRUMP’S mind.

THE LARGER MORAL QUESTION is canPENCE preside if he has already been strategizing with the opposition.

AND TWO UNANSWERED questions that may have to be decided by Congress’ rules authorities in the coming days and weeks:

  1. Can Congress vote to reject PENCE as the presiding officer because he has a stake in the outcome? Congress can practically do anything it wants with a majority vote.
  2. If PENCE does preside and goes to bat for TRUMP, can Congress overturn an unjust or improper ruling? This is also an open question.

JAN. 6 will be a long day, given TRUMP has a crew of House Republicans willing to follow him down this idiotic rabbit hole. But this is going to fail in a spectacular fashion.


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