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Pence explains that he lacked the authority to reject electoral votes

Former Vice President Mike Pence said he will always be “proud” that Congress reconvened on January 6 to complete the certification of the electoral votes after the attack at the U.S Capitol interrupted the process.

Pence, who was recently heckled as a “traitor” at a Republican event — likely for failing to overturn the 2020 election results and declare on January 6 that President Trump had won the election — defended the action he took to help affirm President Biden’s victory.

“There are those in my party who believe that in my position as presiding officer over the joint session, that I possess the authority to reject or return electoral votes certified by the states,” Pence said. “But the Constitution provides the vice president with no such authority before the joint session of Congress.” 

“And the truth is, there’s almost no idea more un-American than the notion that any one person could choose the American president,” he added. 

Pence’s speech Thursday night was part of The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute’s series on the future of the Republican Party. 

This wasn’t the first time that Pence has publicly addressed the January 6 attack on the Capitol. At a fundraiser in New Hampshire earlier this month, Pence said he and former President Trump had spoken “many times” since they’d left office, but he didn’t know if they would “ever see eye-to-eye” about that day.

Congress isn’t finished examining what happened on January 6 yet — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that a select committee will examine the January 6 attack. Her decision came weeks after Senate Republicans blocked a bill to create an independent commission to investigate the assault. 

Pence also offered his vision for the future of the Republican Party, one that he said would be “informed by the success of the last four years.” He called for a “new American agenda” to focus on key GOP issues such as border security, free and fair trade, being tough on China, and “patriotic education” at American schools. 

And Pence disparaged critical race theory, which has been attacked by conservatives across the country. He claimed that it teaches children as young as kindergartners that they should be ashamed of their skin color. 

“It represents a full-throated assault aimed at the heart of the American experiment and it is nothing short of state-sponsored and state-sanctioned racism,” Pence said. “Our party must ensure that critical race theory is expelled from our schools, our military, and our public institutions.” 

Pence has started to ramp up his public appearances, amid speculation that he might run for president in 2024. He is scheduled to speak at the Republican National Committee’s summer donor retreat this weekend. 

He also plans to be active in the 2022 midterm elections. He’s already visited the early primary states of South Carolina and New Hampshire and will be traveling to Iowa next month. 

But other potential 2024 presidential contenders are also emerging. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was in Iowa on Thursday night speaking at the Iowa Republican Party’s Lincoln Dinner. She has a busy schedule in the Hawkeye state, including events with female elected leaders, young Republicans and fundraisers for top Iowa GOP elected officials. 

In a slight directed at Vice President Harris, Haley quipped, “thank goodness for Donald Trump, or we never would have gotten Kamala Harris to the border.” She praised his foreign policy, as she has in the past, but her warmer remarks about the former president were a departure from her public criticism of him. At the RNC winter meeting, she said Mr. Trump’s actions after the election “will be judged harshly by history.”

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton will be in Iowa next week, and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are going to the Hawkeye State next month to address a Christian conservative group. Pence is also slated to attend that event. 



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