WASHINGTON — Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican, announced Wednesday that he will object next week to certifying that Joe Biden won the presidential election.

What You Need To Know

  • Republican Sen. Josh Hawley announced Wednesday that he will object to the certification of Joe Biden's presidential election victory next week

  • A number of House Republicans are also expected to object, which means each chamber would then vote on whether to sustain the objections

  • With Democrats controlling the House, Republicans’ last-ditch effort to overturn Biden’s victory is an extreme long shot

  • President Donald Trump has blamed widespread voter fraud for his loss, although his campaign has lost dozens of lawsuits and government officials say they have found no evidence to support his claims

Congress will meet in a joint session Jan. 6 to vote on certifying the Electoral College results, in which Biden defeated President Donald Trump 306-232.

By law, Vice President Mike Pence, the presiding officer, could only hear objections if at least one member of each chamber speaks out. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), and several incoming Republican House members have indicated they will object. Hawley, who represents Missouri, is the first senator to say he will do so.

Trump has blamed his loss on voter fraud in battleground states, but his dozens of court challenges have failed largely due to lack of evidence. A range of election officials and former Attorney General William Barr have confirmed there was no widespread fraud in the election.

In his statement, Hawley noted that Democrats objected to the certification of electoral votes following the 2004 and 2016 elections to raise concerns about election integrity. 

“[T]hey were entitled to do so,” he said. “But now those of us concerned about the integrity of this election are entitled to do the same.

“I cannot vote to certify the electoral college results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws,” Hawley said. “And I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden. At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections. But Congress has so far failed to act.”

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court last month unanimously dismissed a GOP lawsuit that sought to invalidate more than 2.5 million cotes cast by mail. The justices said the plaintiffs waited too long to challenge the year-old law that established universal mail-in voting in the state. The Trump campaign petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 20 to hear the case.

If Republicans in both the House and Senate indeed object Jan. 6, then the joint session would be suspended and each chamber would go into separate sessions to consider it. For the objection to be sustained, both chambers must agree to it by a simple majority vote. If they do not both agree, the original electoral votes would be counted.

The House is controlled by Democrats, making the Republicans’ last-ditch effort to overturn Biden’s victory an extreme long shot.

Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), privately asked his caucus not to object to the Electoral College results, saying it would be a “terrible vote” for the Senate to have to take, according to two people familiar with the Republican meeting and granted anonymity to discuss it.

The last time such an objection was considered was 2005, when Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio and Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, both Democrats, objected to Ohio’s electoral votes by claiming there were voting irregularities. Both chambers debated the objection and rejected it. It was only the second time such a vote had occurred.

A handful of Democratic House members verbally objected to Trump’s victory after the 2016 election, but without a senator to join them, their objections were not considered. Biden presided over that session as the Vice President of the United States.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.