Confusion erupts as GOP senator suggests Pence will not preside over certification of Biden's win

Confusion erupts as GOP senator suggests Pence will not preside over certification of Biden's win
Gage Skidmore.

A Republican senator ignited confusion on Tuesday after suggesting that Vice President Mike Pence would abdicate his constitutional duty to preside over the congressional certification of Joe Biden's electoral vote win. Pence's office quickly pushed back on the report.

The vice president is duty-bound to preside over Wednesday's certification process, as outlined in the Twelfth Amendment and clarified by the Electoral Count Act, but he will instead hand over those duties to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), reported Roll Call.

"Iowa Sen. Charles E. Grassley, the Senate president pro tempore, says he and not Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the certification of Electoral College votes, since 'we don't expect him to be there,'" Roll Call reported.

President Donald Trump has publicly pressured Pence to reject Biden slates of electors from some states in favor of alternate slates of GOP electors, who have no legal force behind their support for Trump's re-election.

Grassley said that he would hear debate opened up by challenges from Republican representatives and senators, and signaled he would act as Trump has asked the vice president to do.

"It would be really wrong for me to say I have my mind made up," Grassley told Roll Call.

Pence gave up his chair Sunday, during a Senate hearing as the new Congress was sworn in, and handed it over to Grassley.

A spokesman for Grassley later said the 87-year-old senator did not "have any indication Pence won't be present," and instead meant that he would fill the vice president's chair if he failed to show up or steps out of the Senate for a break.

A Fox News congressional reporter added that Pence is expected to preside over the certification process, but might step away at some point.

Chad Pergram tweeted: "Fox is told, that officials here at the Capitol are expecting Vice President Mike Pence to arrive at the Capitol and fulfill his duties presiding over the Joint Session of Congress to certify the electoral votes. But…It was intimated to Fox…that Pence MAY not stay the entire time…especially if these sessions go deep into the night. Remember, the House and Senate break off from the Joint Session and individually debate the electoral votes if there is a challenge to an individual state."

Grassley's office later sent out a statement confirming the accuracy of Roll Call's quoted remark, but claiming that it had been misinterpreted.

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