The Slatest

Democrats’ Last Chance to Block Trump’s Presidency Is Over (Until the Next Chance)

House Speaker Paul Ryan reacts as Vice President Joe Biden presides over the counting of the electoral votes.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Over the spring and summer of 2016, I wrote several articles about Republican Never Trumpers’ “last stand” to block the nomination of Donald Trump, using some arcane provision in Republican National Convention rules or Roberts’ Rules of Order to obstruct a formality. That I wrote several pieces about this means that each “last stand” was never quite the last stand that it appeared to be.

Since Election Day, Democrats have been recreating this series of never-ending last stands to block Trump from the presidency. But now, without further ado, I present to you the Democrats’ final, last, last, final, last chance to block the presidency of Donald Trump, conducted Friday afternoon in the House of Representatives in the tallying of electoral votes.

Advertisement

We live in a silly country in which the new president is certified through a ceremony in which electoral votes are carried into the legislature via strap-locked treasure chest, to be unstrapped and its contents read aloud and then gaveled in as Authentic by the vice president.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Democrats didn’t have much of a mechanism to block Trump, only to make his ceremony marginally embarrassing for a brief period of time. The relevant code allows members to object to the veracity of an individual state’s electoral vote tally if they can present an objection, in writing, and signed by one member of Congress and one senator. If done successfully, then the Senate and the House withdraw and make a decision about the objection. (In other words, they reject it.)

Advertisement

Senate President Joe Biden oversaw the proceedings. On the Democratic side of the aisle, a half-dozen or so members, including Reps. Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson Lee, Raúl Grijalva and freshman Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Jamie Raskin, switched seats to take turns raising objections. The objections varied from state to state. In North Carolina the objections hinged on the state’s effective disenfranchisement of black voters. But most objections referenced Russia’s interference in the election.

Advertisement

Biden was having little of it, and banged the gavel loudly, because none of the members were able to find a senatorial co-signator, thus voiding their objections. The much more populated Republican side of the aisle booed or called out “order!” following each denied objection. When Rep. Jayapal gave her objection, Biden finally said, “It is over.” Republicans gave him a standing ovation.

The Democrats frequently spoke over Biden’s gavel and Republican boos to get their two cents in, before admitting that they did not have the signature of a senator. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was sitting across the aisle from where the Democrats were protesting, and urged them to keep going; she applauded after one member raised the issue of Russian interference. Members’ mics were cut off as soon as their objections were denied.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Near the end, Rep. Waters straight-up asked, “Is there one United States senator who will join me? Just one?” There was not. Pelosi, at one point, moved over to where Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin was sitting to discuss something. If it was an effort to get Durbin, or some other senator, to co-sign an objection, it failed.

Once the tally was finalized, a protester stood up in the gallery to object to the decision and was ushered out by security. Then two more did, and then it was over.

Biden, done performing his official duties, went up to the protesting members and chatted for a while, all smiles.

The Electoral College vote is now officially tallied and certified. Donald Trump will be president. This was the last chance to block Trump. Expect new efforts soon.

Advertisement