Top Democrat Would Support Challenge to Electoral Vote Certification

Rep. Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Cole (R-OK) join ABC's "Powerhouse Politics" podcast.

January 5, 2017, 7:17 PM
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., speaks as House Democrats hold a news conference to call for presidential action on immigration, Nov. 13, 2014.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., speaks as House Democrats hold a news conference to call for presidential action on immigration, Nov. 13, 2014.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

— -- The second-ranking House Democrat, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, would support an effort to challenge certification of the votes that will formally put Trump in the White House on Friday, he told ABC News Political Director Rick Klein on the "Powerhouse Politics" podcast.

Congress is slated to count the Electoral College ballots to officially elect Donald Trump as President on Friday, but a few House Democrats, led by Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado, are weighing options to protest the Electoral College votes.

The only hitch? House Democrats must get the support of a U.S. Senator to move the challenge to an official congressional debate -- something Hoyer doubts is possible. According to Politico, who first reported the protest, if the House members secure the backing of a Senator, the House and Senate would have to debate each Electoral College vote.

“I don't frankly think he's going to get a Senator to join in with him, which the process requires,” said Hoyer. But, “if he has the Senator, I will support him.”

Today, Perlmutter released a statement saying the House Democrats' protest “is not about trying to stop Donald Trump from becoming President,” but “the fact that our liberty, freedom and democracy were compromised by Russia’s intrusion into America’s election."

“I think Mr. Perlmutter raises very legitimate issues,” said Hoyer. “It's based upon the Russian interference in the election....there's no disagreement in the intelligence community."

"Whether it's done tomorrow or not, we are going to be pressing very, very, hard to get at the bottom of this,” Hoyer said, admitting that Trump will be president even if the challenge succeeds.

But whether or not suspected Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee influenced the 2016 election isn't the only hotly contested debate on the Hill this year: already House lawmakers have sparred over changes to their independent ethics watchdog -- something Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma says would have succeeded without a rebuke from President-elect Trump.

"These guys have never had a president that could literally reach into their districts and move public opinions," Cole said on the "Powerhouse Politics" podcast. "This [President] has a unique tool that has never existed before with a list of 20 million followers. As I said, it’s going to be an eye-opener for some people."

But the biggest battle coming up? Republicans are dedicated to repealing and replacing President Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act.

"Repealing it without a replacement is irresponsible and dangerous and will put literally of millions and millions and millions of Americans at risk, including those who are covered by -- who have an employer policy,” said Hoyer, the Democratic whip. “We think it's irresponsible.”

Still, he says Democrats will work with Republicans if he thinks they’ve found an alternative that works for everyone. “Assuming repeal happens, I think that Democrats will continue to be committed to making sure, to the extent that we can, that every American has the availability of affordable, quality healthcare." he said.

“If they have such an alternative, they've hidden it very well over the last six years," Hoyer added.

Listen to Powerhouse Politics here.

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