Reps. Thompson v. Lamb: toss PA electoral votes?

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Allegheny, U.S. House of Representatives, Jan. 7, 2020., around 2 a.m. Photo: Associated Press, from House video feed.

In the early morning of Jan. 7, hours after a violent mob ransacked the U.S. Capitol and interrupted debate over certifying the 2020 election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, members of the U.S. House of Representatives reconvened.

Rep. Glenn Thompson, a seven-term Republican who represents Indiana County as part of the 15th Congressional District, and Rep. Conor Lamb, a second-term Democrat representing nearby Allegheny County,  both rose to speak to a Republican objection to Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Both members referred to the state legislature’s 2019 expansion of mail-in voting. The measure was approved by bipartisan majorities in the state House and Senate. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed the Act 77 voting-rights expansion in October 2019.

Mr. Thompson spoke first, a little before 1 a.m., in support of the GOP objection to Pennsylvania’s vote. His remarks, as published in the Congressional Record, follow.  Mr. Lamb’s remarks appear after Thompson’s.

———————

  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. Madam Speaker, I rise to support the objection.

  The SPEAKER. The gentleman from Pennsylvania is recognized for 5 minutes.

 

Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson Jr., R-15th Congressional District. Photo: C-SPAN.

  Mr. THOMPSON of Pennsylvania. Madam Speaker, I rise this evening with a heavy heart. The violence that occurred today at the U.S. Capitol was senseless, destructive, and counter to our American values.

  This past Sunday, each Member of this body took an oath to uphold the United States Constitution. And while the path of least resistance, particularly following today’s events, would be to remain silent, my oath to uphold the Constitution does not permit me to maintain silence.

  While systemic voter fraud was not something proven, we witnessed a systemic failure in the application of Pennsylvania’s voting law when it comes to the 2020 general election.

  In late 2019, the Commonwealth revisited and modernized its election law with the bipartisan Act 77. Granted, in late 2019, the Commonwealth’s legislature did not have the foresight to anticipate how COVID-19 would present challenges to voting. Despite that, it is not up to the Governor, the secretary of the Commonwealth, nor the State supreme court to unilaterally create law.

  The election abuses to Pennsylvania Act 77 taken by the Pennsylvania executive branch and upheld by the Pennsylvania judicial branch were clearly unconstitutional and had an obvious, if not major, impact on the 2020 election, particularly when it comes to the citizens’ faith in the electoral process.

  Irregularities in Pennsylvania included: Uneven application of the law; ballot curing; ignoring signature validation requirements; using unsecured drop boxes; accepting ballots beyond the deadlines; and interfering with certified poll watcher access, among others.

  These actions were taken by the Commonwealth’s Governor and secretary of state where the Pennsylvania Supreme Court circumvented the authority of the State legislature. Furthermore, the chief law officer of the Commonwealth sat idly while this process unfolded.

  Now, I joined many of my colleagues in Pennsylvania requesting the legislators in Harrisburg conduct an investigation and audit to ensure such negligence will be prevented in future elections.

  I have serious concerns about how these irregularities in the application of the Commonwealth’s election laws will play in future elections. Only with equal application of law will the voters of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have certainty in their election processes.

  Now, I remain committed to ensuring the voters receive an electoral system they deserve and where equal application of law is guaranteed. If our election integrity is compromised, we have failed the very voters who have sent us here to defend the Constitution.

  Madam Speaker, I yield to the gentleman from Maryland.

———————

An hour later, Rep. Lamb rose to oppose the Republican effort to toss Pennsylvania’s election results. His remarks, taken from the House video feed, were posted to YouTube.  And news media reported the immediate reaction to his remarks, which included a bench-clearing rush to avert a fistfight on the House floor. 

Mr. Lamb’s remarks follow:

Mr. LAMB. Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition.

  The SPEAKER. The gentleman from Pennsylvania is recognized for 5 minutes.

  Mr. LAMB. Madam Speaker, I came here tonight prepared to talk about the place I represent and how well the Democratic and Republican county officials ran our election. I wanted to point out that in my home county of Allegheny County, in the place they were counting the votes, there were 31 video cameras – 31 — in the same place, just showing people counting votes, every single one of them on paper, with representatives from both campaigns watching.

  Madam Speaker, I wanted to point out to all these great lovers and supporters of the Pennsylvania legislature that it was the Republican Pennsylvania legislature that passed a Republican bill that they all voted for and supported that set up the system under which we just ran the election, and that the reason the President lost was because he was not as popular as other Republicans in our State. He got fewer votes than all of them.

  Madam Speaker, I wanted to lay out all this evidence because I thought it was a sign of respect for my colleagues and for all the Americans out there who don’t know who to trust. I was raised on that.

I was raised on that respect, which makes this a hard speech for me to give. Because to do this with any kind of honesty means admitting and declaring in this House that these objections don’t deserve an ounce of respect — not an ounce. 

  A woman died out there tonight, and you are making these objections.

  Let’s be clear about what happened in this Chamber today. Invaders came in for the first time since the War of 1812. They desecrated these Halls and this Chamber and practically every inch of ground where we work. For the most part, they walked in here free. A lot of them walked out free. There wasn’t a person watching at home who didn’t know why that was — because of the way that they look.

  My point, Madam Speaker, is this: Enough has been done here already to try to strip this Congress of its dignity, and these objectors don’t need to do anymore.

  We know that that attack today didn’t materialize out of nowhere. It was inspired by lies, the same lies that you are hearing in this room tonight. And the Members who are repeating those lies should be ashamed of themselves. Their constituents should be ashamed of them.

  We know what is going to happen as soon as I walk away, what has happened all night tonight, what will continue to happen. They will take these same symbols, these same concepts, smuggle them into their arguments, and make the same arguments. I want people at home, anyone who is still watching, to know that these arguments are not for them; they are for you.

  None of the evidence we wanted to discuss here tonight will change their opinions or what they are about to say. But you need to know that is not the end. It is not as if there is nothing we can do because of that. And if there was, I don’t think this Nation would have made it to almost 250 years.

  The fact is, Madam Speaker, that at the end of the day, people–

                             Point of Order

  Mr. [Morgan] GRIFFITH [R-Va.]. Madam Speaker, point of order.

  The SPEAKER. The gentleman will state his point of order.

  Mr. GRIFFITH. Yes, ma’am. The point of order would be that the gentleman said that there were lies on this floor here today, looking over in this direction. I ask that those words be taken down.   We may have a disagreement on matters, but—

[shouted objection]

  The SPEAKER. The gentleman’s demand is not timely. The gentleman from Pennsylvania will proceed.

   Mr. LAMB. Madam Speaker, the fact is, at the end of the day, it hurts. It hurts them; it hurts this country. It hurts all of us. But the fact is that the people have made this country work by not giving in.

[shouted objection]

LAMB: Go ahead. Shout it out.

  The SPEAKER. (to objector) The gentleman is not in order.

  The SPEAKER. (to Rep. Lamb) The gentleman will proceed.

  Mr. LAMB. One last thing to say, Madam Speaker. And I thank you for your patience. All people need to know tonight, Madam Speaker … 

  The SPEAKER (gaveling). There will be order in the House. The gentleman will clear the Chamber. (To Rep. Lamb) The gentleman will proceed.

   Mr. LAMB. Thank you, Madam Speaker, the truth hurts. But the fact is this: We want this government to work more than they want it to fail.  After everything that has happened today, we want that more than ever. Know that. Know that, the people watching at home. We want this government to work. We will make it work. They will not make it fail. 

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I yield back.

(applause)

———————

Around 3 a.m., the House voted on the GOP objection. The effort failed 138-282. Thompson voted in favor of the failed objection along with seven other Pennsylvania Republican House members — John Joyce, Fred Keller, Mike Kelly, Dan Meuser, Scott Perry, Guy Reschenthaler and Lloyd Smucker.

 

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