Live politics updates: Romney, other Republican senators blast GOP colleagues' 'egregious ploy to reject electors'

The year 2020 may now be behind us, but we aren't done with the 2020 election just yet.

The newly-elected Congress is waiting to be sworn in and two runoff elections in Georgia are coming up that will determine control of the Senate, while President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory still has to be certified by Congress. Biden also still has a few Cabinet picks to announce – including his nominee for Attorney General – as he plans for his inauguration. 

Here are the upcoming dates to watch:

  • Jan. 3: New Congress is sworn in.
  • Jan. 5: Senate runoff election in Georgia.
  • Jan. 6: Congress will count and certify the electoral results in a joint session.
  • Jan. 20: Inauguration of Biden, who will take the oath of office.

Be sure to refresh this page often to get the latest information on the transition.

Romney, other GOP senators blast fellow Republicans election 'ploy'

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, denounced the decision by 11 of his Republican colleagues in the Senate to oppose the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory, calling it an "egregious ploy" that "dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic."

"More Americans participated in this election than ever before, and they made their choice. President Trump’s lawyers made their case before scores of courts; in every instance, they failed," Romney said in his statement released Saturday evening. "The Justice Department found no evidence of irregularity sufficient to overturn the election. The Presidential Voter Fraud Commission disbanded without finding such evidence."

The Utah senator called out Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and the other 11 members who back the move, saying that their argument for objecting “ignores the widely perceive reality that Congress is an overwhelmingly partisan body.”

Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also responded to their colleagues’ joint statement, announcing their intent to vote to certify the results. 

In a series of scathing tweets, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., declared his intention to vote to affirm the 2020 presidential election results and criticized Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz for their decision not to.

"A fundamental, defining feature of a democratic republic is the right of the people to elect their own leaders. The effort by Sens. Hawley, Cruz, and others to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election in swing states like Pennsylvania directly undermines this right," Toomey said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also declared she will vote to certify the 2020 presidential election results during a joint session of Congress Wednesday, hours after her Republican colleagues announced their plan to join the objection. 

"I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and that is what I will do January 6 – just as I strive to do every day as I serve the people of Alaska," Murkowski said in a statement. “I will vote to affirm the 2020 presidential election. The courts and state legislatures have all honored their duty to hear legal allegations and have found nothing to warrant overturning the results.”

– Sarah Elbeshbishi 

Cruz, other Republican senators to join election objection

Several more Republican senators, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, announced Saturday that they will join Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and object to the certification of the 2020 election results.

Citing "unprecedented allegations of voter fraud" and "voting irregularities," but not specific evidence, the senators planning to join Hawley's objection said in a joint statement that they "intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not 'regularly given' and 'lawfully certified' (the statutory requisite), unless and until" the completion of an "emergency 10-day audit." 

Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, John Kennedy of Louisiana, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Mike Braun of Indiana joined Cruz in signing the joint statement. 

The statement also named four newly elected senators, who will be sworn in Sunday, who plan to join the objection Wednesday: Sens-elect Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.

President Donald Trump and many of his supporters have alleged the election was stolen by Biden and the Democrats, though they have presented no credible evidence of widespread fraud and their legal challenges have consistently rejected by the courts. But the Republican senators who plan to object to the vote count argued that enough doubt had been cast on the result by Trump and his allies that it warranted debate. 

"Whether or not our elected officials or journalists believe it, that deep distrust of our democratic processes will not magically disappear. It should concern us all. And it poses an ongoing threat to the legitimacy of any subsequent administrations," they wrote. 

"Ideally, the courts would have heard evidence and resolved these claims of serious election fraud. Twice, the Supreme Court had the opportunity to do so; twice, the Court declined," they continued, arguing the high court's inaction leaves Wednesday's vote as "the lone constitutional power remaining to consider and force resolution of the multiple allegations of serious voter fraud." 

Though Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., did not directly address the group of objecting senators, shortly after their statement, he tweeted, "Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be President and Vice President of the United States in 18 days." 

– Sarah Elbeshbishi

Virginia state Sen. Ben Chafin Jr. dies after contracting COVID-19.

State Sen. Ben Chafin Jr. died Friday after contracting the coronavirus, his office announced in a statement. 

"State senator Augustus Denton (Ben) Chafin Jr., a native son of Russell County located in Southwest Virginia, passed away on January 1, 2021 from COVID-19 complications," the news release from his office stated.

Chafin, 60, was treated in Richmond at the VCU Medical Center for two weeks before his death.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam ordered the state flag to be immediately lowered over the Capitol in Richmond.

"With the passing of Senator Ben Chafin, Southwest Virginia has lost a strong advocate – and we have all lost a good man," Northam said in a statement. "This is is sad news to begin a new year with the loss of a kind and gracious man. May we all recommit to taking extra steps to care for one another." 

Chafin, a Republican, was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2013 before being elected to the state senate the following year. 

"He served to ensure that his region and community, and the people he loved, would never be forgotten," state Senate Republicans said in a statement.

Days before Chafin’s death, Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, R-La., also died after contracting the virus. LSU Health Shreveport Chancellor G.E. Ghali said Letlow, 41, died from a heart attack following a procedure related to the infection.

– Sarah Elbeshbishi

Congress overrides Trump defense bill veto

WASHINGTON – The Senate on Friday overrode President Donald Trump's veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – the first congressional override in Trump’s tenure as president and a final rebuke of the president just weeks before he leaves office.

The House of Representatives on Monday voted 322-87 to override the president, a remarkable bipartisan condemnation of the president in divided Washington. The Senate voted 81-13 in favor of overriding Trump, and the NDAA will be enacted into law despite Trump's disapproval. 

The NDAA, a $741 billion national security package, will raise troops' pay, direct the purchase of weapons and set military policies. It passed both the House and Senate with overwhelming support by both parties.

Trump opposed the bill for not including language that would strip social media companies from the protections they enjoy under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and for ordering name changes for bases dedicated to former Confederate figures. 

"Our Republican Senate just missed the opportunity to get rid of Section 230, which gives unlimited power to Big Tech companies. Pathetic!!!" the president tweeted after his veto was overridden. 

– Christal Hayes