Grassley suggests he may preside over Senate debate on Electoral College votes

Sen. Chuck Grassley speaks on the Senate floor on March 20, 2020. (Screen shot from video provided by Grassley's office)

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he would preside over the U.S. Senate debate surrounding disputes of the 2020 election results if Vice President Mike Pence does not show up.

He suggested Pence was not expected to attend but Grassley’s staff later said that was a “misinterpretation” and that Pence was expected to be there.

On Wednesday, Congress will meet to formally count the Electoral College votes after they were certified by states last month. At least 12 GOP senators and dozens of House Republicans say they intend to object to the Electoral College results as those votes are read, state by state, in a joint session that begins at noon CT Wednesday.

During an exchange with reporters on Tuesday, Grassley was asked how he plans to vote.

“Well, first of all, I will be — if the Vice President isn’t there and we don’t expect him to be there, I will be presiding over the Senate,” according to a transcript of his remarks sent by a spokesperson.

Grassley serves as the president pro tempore of the Senate and will preside over any portion of the debate that Pence does not attend. But Grassley expects Pence to be present on Wednesday, according to his spokesperson.

President Donald Trump has continued to claim that he won the November 2020 election, resulting in a historic number of Republicans in the House and Senate saying they will vote to reject the election results, according to USA Today.

Both Grassley and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst have acknowledged Biden as the winner of the election, based on “the Constitution,” according to the Des Moines Register, but haven’t ruled out raising objections. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he acknowledges Biden as the winner of the election. 

Grassley told reporters on Tuesday that any challenges to the election results are a “legitimate” move that Republicans are allowed to conduct, according to Radio Iowa.

“First of all, it’s a legal process under the law and under the Constitution, for these folks to do what they’re doing,” Grassley says. “It was done by the Democrats in 2004 and I think one other time. People that are finding fault with Republicans doing it shouldn’t do it when it’s done by Democrats.”