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. It was shaping up as something of a last stand for the outgoing president's congressional backers.
Though widely expected to fail, the effort by some in their party was dividing 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 of them have made any public statement on their plans, nor did they respond to multiple requests for comment on Monday and Tuesday.
As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar 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.
The debate is playing out against the backdrop of Trump's efforts to stoke dissent with ongoing, evidence-free claims of election fraud. Minnesota Democrats are now also urging a swift congressional response to Trump's most recent attempt to overturn the election: U.S. Rep. Ilhan 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.
Last month, Emmer, Stauber and Hagedorn each signed on to an amicus brief in support of a failed Republican lawsuit that 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, doing so in correspondence with constituents last month. On Tuesday, Stauber also tweeted a criticism of Biden's cabinet appointments, in the latest signal that he recognizes Biden's victory as legitimate.
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.
As their GOP counterparts remained mum, Minnesota congressional Democrats lobbed unsparing assessments of those trying to overturn Biden's victory. Rep. Angie Craig described the plan as a "shameful and undemocratic stunt" that would "undermine American democracy and diminish voters' faith in our electoral system." Rep. Betty McCollum added that Trump and his allies were carrying out a "scheme that combines deceit, corruption and intimidation."
To Rep. Dean Phillips, a once routine procedure "is suddenly being politicized in ways that set a very dangerous precedent." Phillips described the vote as "not about preserving a president" but preserving the presidency and the nation's system of government.
Klobuchar said supporters of Biden's victory have "a strong case," noting that "over 80 judges have tossed out lawsuits and claims as spurious — including many Trump-appointed judges."
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."
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.
In Washington, Trump supporters poured into town Tuesday in anticipation of a gathering of tens of thousands of people near the White House as Congress considers the Electoral College results.
Bill Fulbright, who flew with his wife from California to Washington to join the protest, seemed more resigned to Biden remaining in office. His wife, he said, believes Trump will remain president.
"I think the vote was stolen," Fulbright said. "But I don't know there's much more we can do. So we're hoping for divine intervention."
Star Tribune staff writer Jim Spencer contributed to this report.
Stephen Montemayor • 612-673-1755