Newly sworn-in U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal made an attention-grabbing last-ditch effort to block Donald Trump from the White House, objecting to the certification of the Electoral College vote. But the effort was shut down by Vice President Joe Biden.
Jayapal, a Democrat elected in November to represent the Seattle-area 7th Congressional District, rose Friday during a joint session of Congress during which the final electoral tally was certified.
“For what purpose does the gentlewoman rise?” asked Biden, who was chairing the session in his role as president of the Senate.
“Mr. President, I object to the certificate from the state of Georgia on the grounds that the electoral votes were not–” Jayapal said.
Biden cut Jayapal off with a slam of the gavel. “There is no debate,” he said, noting any such objection had to be in writing and signed by a member of the House and the Senate.
Jayapal attempted to continue with a speech. “Mr. President, even as people waited hours in Georgia–”
She was gaveled down again. “There is no debate,” Biden said, again citing Senate rules.
Jayapal acknowledged her objection had not been signed by any Senator.
“It is over,” Biden said, drawing laughs and applause from the assembled lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, seated immediately behind the vice president.
Jayapal’s objection was one of several from progressive House Democrats who rose in succession in an attempt to call attention to issues including voter suppression and Russian hacking.
In an interview, Jayapal said she wished Biden would have allowed her and her colleagues to state their full objections without being cut off.
“It was really important, from my personal perspective, for the American people to know we understand the issues with the way this election happened,” she said, citing reports of hours-long lines to vote in some southern states.
Near the end of the electoral vote tally, another objector, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., unsuccessfully pleaded for any senator to join the effort. “Is there one United States senator who will join me in this letter of objection?” Waters asked, drawing boos from Republicans.
Jayapal said she had not personally sought signatures to back her effort from either of Washington’s two Democratic U.S. Senators, Patty Murray or Maria Cantwell. She said another member of the House Democrats had been in charge of trying to obtain a signature from a senator.
Trump finished with 304 electoral votes and Democrat Hillary Clinton got 227. It takes 270 Electoral College votes to win the presidency.
There were seven protest votes for other candidates, four of which came from Washington state. Despite being pledged to Clinton, three Democratic electors here cast their votes for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and one voted for Native American activist and tribal elder Faith Spotted Eagle. The same four electors also cast protest votes for vice president.
Washington’s unusual tally prompted scattered snickering when it was read aloud in the U.S. House chambers by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri.
Seattle Times political reporter Jim Brunner covers state, local and regional politics.
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