Republicans in Minnesota's congressional delegation remained silent about their plans Tuesday as a historic vote approached to certify President-elect Joe Biden the winner of the Electoral College.
Their Democratic colleagues approached Wednesday's vote feeling both solemn about the occasion and outraged at President Donald Trump's continued efforts to undermine the will of voters.
The unusual move by about a dozen GOP senators and scores of their House colleagues to object to Biden's victory in a handful of pivotal states has consumed Washington in recent days. Once a largely ceremonial proceeding, it was shaping up as something of a last stand for the outgoing president's congressional backers following the rejection of dozens of legal challenges claiming voter fraud by numerous federal judges and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Though widely expected to fail, the effort by some in the GOP threatened to stretch the proceedings into the next day and divide congressional Republicans. It comes even after Trump generated new outrage by urging Georgia's secretary of state in a recorded call to "find" extra votes for him in a state Biden won.
As many as 140 House Republicans will reportedly object to the Electoral College results. But it's not yet clear where the four from Minnesota — Reps. Tom Emmer, Pete Stauber, Jim Hagedorn and Michelle Fischbach — will fall.
None have made any public statement on their plans, nor did they respond to multiple requests for comment on Monday and Tuesday.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, is preparing to play a prominent role in the Senate's debate on certification, which she predicted could stretch to 24 hours. As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee, she will help lead Senate deliberations alongside Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt.
"My job is to make sure that it is not just about Democrats — it is about those who want to uphold this democracy and those who don't," Klobuchar said in an interview.
Blunt and others in the Senate's GOP leadership have rejected the move by some of their colleagues, led by Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, to keep pushing Trump's cause.
Klobuchar said that while the group of GOP Senators vowing to reject Electoral College results is garnering more attention, she remains confident based on support for accepting the results expressed by key figures like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The debate is playing out against the backdrop of Trump's efforts to stoke dissent with ongoing, evidence-free claims of election fraud. The prompted fresh calls for impeachment from several Democratic lawmakers — including U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Minnesota Democrats are now also urging a swift congressional response to Trump's most recent attempt to overturn the election: Omar on Monday called Trump's conduct during a call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger "a crime, plain and simple."
"It is another flagrant act of sedition from a president dead set on undermining the bedrock of our democracy: our elections," Omar said, describing it as "a crime, plain and simple."
Minnesota's Republican delegation has largely been silent on Trump's antics. Last month, Emmer, Stauber and Hagedorn each signed on to an amicus brief in support of a failed Republican lawsuit thought sought to have the U.S. Supreme Court invalidate Biden's election.
Fischbach — who was sworn into Congress on Sunday — has in previous media interviews backed Trump's unfounded claims of election fraud.
Stauber, who represents northeastern Minnesota, is the only member of Minnesota's Republican delegation to so far recognize Biden as president-elect. In correspondence with constituents last month, Stauber wrote that he would "be in attendance for President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration."
On Tuesday, Stauber also tweeted a criticism of Biden's cabinet appointments, in the latest signal that he recognizes Biden's victory as legitimate.
Wednesday's joint session of Congress is seen as the last stand for Republicans seeking to overturn Biden's election after state and federal judges across the country — including Trump-appointed justices on the Supreme Court —
Emmer, who holds the fourth-highest leadership position among House Republicans, last month described Wednesday as the end of the process of challenging and certifying the election results. Speaking at a virtual panel alongside Klobuchar, he refused to refer to Biden as president-elect but acknowledged that Trump's options for contesting the election were "diminishing."
Those remarks came before a cluster of Republicans in both chambers emerged with vows to formally object to a Biden Electoral College victory that was made official last month after each state certified their election results without any findings of widespread fraud or wrongdoing.
Klobuchar expects Senate objectors to contest the results of up to the same six states that are the focus of House GOP opposition: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Klobuchar said she has also prepared for additional challenges to results in states like Minnesota or New Hampshire should they arise on Wednesday.
"We are going to make the case that over 80 judges have tossed out lawsuits and claims as spurious — including many Trump-appointed judges," Klobuchar said. She added: "My point is, we have a strong case."
Wednesday's joint session will take place amid pro-Trump rallies in Washington and around the country — including an event dubbed "Storm The Capitol" planned in St. Paul. Despite the name, an organizer warned attendees against breaching the fenced off State Capitol building, adding that they could be arrested.
"While we don't exactly know what's going to happen that day, it's bound to be 'wild,' " the organizer wrote.
Sen. Tina Smith, a Democrat, said she's worried that even if bound to fail, the effort by some of her Republican colleagues could do lasting damage.
"To be clear, they are going to fail, but they are fanning a fire of distrust and a lack of faith in the election process — which is dangerous," Smith said. "It is putting partisanship before patriotism, and I think that is wrong and I believe that it goes against what I pledged to in my oath."