Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil W. McCabe Weighs in on How Pence Will Rule in Joint Session of Congress

Jan 7, 2021


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil W. McCabe to the newsmakers line.

During the third hour, McCabe weighed in on how he thought the joint session of Congress would go on Wednesday as Vice President Pence has the ability to object to the certification of Joe Biden as president-elect. Unfortunately, he believed that Mike Pence would not object and that the former vice president would be certified.

Leahy: We are in the studio with our good friend, the original all-star panelist Crom Carmichael. And on the newsmaker line is our Washington correspondent for the Star News Network and the Tennessee Star Neil McCabe. Good morning, Neil.

McCabe: Men, good morning to you.

Carmichael: Now you can’t say that on the house floor. (Laughter)

Leahy: Now that is funny Crom. That is funny. So Neil, what is going to happen?

Carmichael: That was good. Neil was good. That was good. Just jumped in there.

Leahy: You can’t say that on the House floor. So today we’ve got a big rally in Washington. How many people are going to be there? Ten thousand? One hundred thousand? Quite a few. They’re going to try to stop the steal. The joint session of Congress begins at 1:00 pm Eastern time. The big question is what will Vice President Mike Pence do? The New York Times and ABC News reported last night that he met with the president and told the president that he wasn’t going to object to the certification of Biden and others. The president says not so fast. What do you think is happening? Do you think Pence will do exactly that?

McCabe: I think Pence will do exactly what Biden did four years ago. And what some of the other vice presidents have done. And he will gavel this thing over as quickly as he possibly can. And if Republicans go through with their challenges he will he will follow the rules. He will recognize people when you supposed to recognize people. Pence is not going to throw out any of these results even from the wacky states where there was obvious fraud. And you know, he’s going to want this thing to be over as quickly as possible.

Leahy: I think you’re probably right. Crom, what do you think the vice president will do?

Carmichael: That’s what I’ve been saying, Michael. You’ve been saying that that’s not going to happen.

Leahy: No, I haven’t been saying that.

Carmichael: You’ve been hoping it’s not going to happen.

Leahy: No. No, no.

Carmichael: You are hoping Mike Pence will do something more.

Leahy: No. No. What I’ve been saying is he could and he has the authority if he wanted to. Maybe you could weigh in on this Neil. I think he has the authority. First, since he’s presiding over the joint session, he would have the authority to first entertain a motion from Ted Cruz to do this 10-day audit of the swing states. What do you say, Neil? Do I have that right or wrong?

McCabe: As a presiding officer?

Leahy: Yeah.

McCabe: He cannot only recognize but he could also you know, make a ruling from the chair and then they would have to rule against him.

Leahy: Who is they? Who could rule against him?

McCabe: Well, both chambers would have to vote. If you oppose the ruling of the chair then both chambers would have to excuse themselves. Then each chamber would have to vote whether or not to overrule the chair. But you know he’s the guy in charge. He’s the presiding officer. What’s going to happen is you he’s just trying to try to get this thing over as quickly as possible.

It’s my understanding that although there are 13 Senators who are willing to challenge some of these states they don’t have Senators who will challenge all of the states. I would be curious to see how many of these states are actually challenged. And then what Matt Gaetz was saying last night was that the Republican leadership, so when they break off the first one up would be a for Arizona.

Leahy: A for Arizona.

McCabe: So when they break off into their separate chambers to deliberate whether or not to throw out Arizona or what Gaetz was saying is that the Republican leadership is going to give some of the Republican debate time to Republicans who opposed to the challenge.

Leahy: There’s not many of them, but they would give them some time right? I saw that.

McCabe: Well there’s not many of them, but the people who like committee chairmen Like Liz Cheney who is number three in the House leadership. And so she’s opposed to the challenge. And on the Senate side the number two Republican Senator John Thune.

Leahy: He’s opposed as well.

McCabe: And he’s a Whip. And he’s whipping against the president. So it’ll be very interesting to see. But the Republican leadership is basically joining with the Democrats to shut this thing down. And so once again conservatives find themselves on the outside looking in. And you know, it’s that paradigm that there are two parties in this country. There’s the party that wants Washington in charge and in control of everything and then there’s the party that doesn’t.

And so there are members of the Washington party both the Republican and the Democratic party. There used to be members of the sort of I’m not Washington party in the Democratic party. But they’ve probably been flushed out. And so if you stop looking at Washington as Democrat and Republican and conservative and liberal and just start looking at Washington as there is the Washington party and the not Washington Party then everything makes sense.

Leahy: So Neil, Crom, and I have been having lively discussions this morning about this whole process. So let me see if I understand this. Now my advice to the vice president if he were to call me this morning would be as the presiding officer of the joint session to first entertain the proposals from Ted Cruz to do this 10-day audit of these disputed states.

McCabe: Absolutely.

Leahy: And what you’re saying is if you were to make that ruling then there would be objections and they would break into their different Houses and they would vote on that. Is that what you’re saying?

McCabe: No. If he was the rule if he was to by Fiat rule out say when Arizona comes up, if he was to rule that Arizona is not certified that would be…

Leahy: No, no, no. I’m saying even before that as a presiding officer as the very first thing that he would do would be to entertain a motion from Ted Cruz on this 10-day commission. That’s what I would recommend he do.

McCabe: You couldn’t object to recognizing somebody on the floor if you get the second, that motion is in play.

Carmichael: And then it gives voted on by each House. Is that how it would work? Can the vice president just do that and would then they break up into each House and vote on that proposal for the 10-day Commission?

McCabe: I don’t know if they’re under House or Senate rules. In the Senate, you could actually rule something like that. And then the Senate would just have to object. Of course, anything can be done by unanimous consent. So they could just take it just you know by you see unanimous consent if nobody objects then it’s done. But what they would have to do is there would have to be a motion there would be a second and then folks would have to vote on it.

Leahy: Here’s what I’m getting at and this is I think more along the lines of Crom on this. So if the vice president were to do that and if and say I want to do the 10-day commission before I open the certificates, which I’m required to do and I’m the presiding officer under the Constitution. I think what you’re saying is if they were breaking up into the House and then into the Senate what would that vote be on the 10-day commission?

McCabe: They would lose.

Leahy: In both ones. And so rather than do that symbolically, the vice president is not going to do that. Is that your take on it?

McCabe: I think that you may be forced to go forward with the action. If Cruz is recognized, of course, that’s the other decision, right?

Leahy: Yeah exactly. Hey, we have 30 seconds. Tomorrow morning what will have happened? Where will we be?

McCabe: Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will be recognized by Congress as the president-elect.

Leahy: I think your unfortunately correct Neil.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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