Colorado’s two new members of Congress were sworn into office Sunday.
Democratic U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper and Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert of Rifle officially joined the seven other members of Colorado’s congressional delegation.
Hickenlooper begins a six-year term and replaces Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. Boebert was elected to a two-year term and is filling the spot of Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton of Cortez.
Gardner and Tipton lost in last year’s election.
Hickenlooper and Boebert join Congress at a fraught moment. The coronavirus crisis is still raging. Meanwhile, a group of Republicans, including Boebert, are set this week to challenge President-elect Joe Biden’s win in November.
Fraud did not spoil the 2020 presidential election, a fact confirmed by election officials across the country. Before stepping down last month, Attorney General William
Barr, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump, said there was no evidence of fraud that affected the election’s outcome. Arizona’s and Georgia’s Republican governors, whose states were crucial to Biden’s win, have also said their election results were accurate.
Nevertheless, a dozen Republicans bound for the new Senate, led by Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, and even more in the House have pledged to become a resistance force to Biden’s White House, starting with efforts to subvert the will of American voters. These GOP lawmakers plan to object to the election results when Congress meets Wednesday to tally his 306-232 Electoral College victory over Trump.
Vice President Mike Pence, who as president of the Senate, presides over the session and declares the winner, is facing growing pressure from Trump’s allies over that ceremonial role.
Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, said in a statement Saturday that Pence “welcomes the efforts of members of the House and Senate to use the authority they have under the law to raise objections.”
U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a Windsor Republican, signaled Sunday that he won’t challenge Biden’s win.
“Congress has only a narrow role in the presidential election process,” Buck wrote in a statement issued with several other Republican House members. “Its job is to count the electors submitted by the states, not to determine which electors the states should have sent. … To take action otherwise – that is, to unconstitutionally insert Congress into the center of the presidential election process – would amount to stealing power from the people and the states. It would, in effect, replace the Electoral College with Congress, and in so doing strengthen the efforts of those on the left who are determined to eliminate it or render it irrelevant.”
Buck is also chairman of the Colorado GOP and is facing pressure from fellow Republicans to join the effort to overturn the 2020 election results.
“Though doing so may frustrate our immediate political objectives, we have sworn an oath to promote the Constitution above our policy goals,” Buck’s statement said. “We must count the electoral votes submitted by the states.”
Boebert told KDVR-TV that she would be challenging the Electoral College results, but didn’t cite any evidence as to why.
“I know that states have their role. The courts have theirs,” she said. “I am honored to be a part of this and do my role as a member of Congress.”
Democrat Nancy Pelosi was re-elected as House speaker by her party, which retains the majority in the House but with the slimmest margin in 20 years after a surprisingly strong GOP performance in the November election.
Opening the Senate could be among Sen. Mitch McConnell’s final acts as majority leader. Republican control is in question until Tuesday’s runoff elections for two Senate seats in Georgia. The outcome will determine which party holds the chamber.
The House and Senate were required to convene Sunday, by law, and imposed strict COVID-19 protocols. Elbow bumps replaced handshakes as senators took the oath of office. Fewer family members than usual joined lawmakers at the Capitol. An enclosed section was designed for lawmakers in quarantine, but testing negative for the virus.
But by day’s end, House lawmakers were hugging and congratulating one another after taking the oath of office in the crowded chamber, an alarming scene during the pandemic.
“To say the new Congress convenes at a challenging time would be an understatement,” McConnell said as the chamber opened.
Still, McConnell said with the start of a new year there are reasons for optimism, “let’s make the American people proud.”
Pelosi said the top priority is defeating the coronavirus. And “defeat it we will,” she said to applause.
The Associated press contributed to this article