The 127 Republican lawmakers who voted to overthrow president-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory are facing fierce backlash from donors, constituents, and even some GOP colleagues following the attempted coup at the US Capitol by a pro-Trump mob on Wednesday.
Some have even been called upon to resign.
Membership in this so-called “Sedition Caucus” runs the gamut from congressional backbenchers such as Congressman Mo Brooks (the face of the movement to decertify the election) to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.
Many observers and lawmakers have credited Mr Cruz’ and Mr Hawley’s intense, falsehood-riddled rhetoric leading up to the vote with fueling the anger of the mob that stormed the Capitol and led to the deaths of five people, including a Capitol police officer.
Mr Cruz has since tried telling local media he disagreed with the president’s speech and statements on Wednesday shortly before the rioters descended on the Capitol.
But the senator’s denunciation of Mr Trump was so unaligned with the truth of what actually happened — and so lacking in fundamental good faith — that his own former spokeswoman told CNN she could hardly “recognise” her former boss.
“He has to come to terms with the fact that he, through his actions, directly played into the hands of the mob. End stop,” said Amanda Carpenter, the Texas Republican’s former communications director.
“That is what happened, and it is so horrifying to watch someone descend into this, and not be able to admit what happened, when you worked for him and you believed in him. It’s just, it’s really hard to watch,” Ms Carpenter said.
The condemnation has been equally brutal for Mr Hawley, who raised a fist in solidarity with the demonstrators at the Capitol shortly before they stormed the building and forced him and hundreds of other lawmakers to find hiding places.
Former Missouri GOP Senator Jack Danforth, Mr Hawley’s mentor, told the St Louis Post-Dispatch that backing Mr Hawley’s political ascent was “the worst mistake I ever made in my life.”
Mr Danforth said: “What he’s doing to his party is one thing. What he’s doing to the country is much worse.”
Mr Hawley has been defiant in the face of calls for him to resign.
“I will never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections. That’s my job, and I will keep doing it,” he told Newsweek in a statement.
By Sunday, scores of Democratic lawmakers had called upon Mr Cruz, Mr Hawley, and the 125 other Republicans who voted to toss out Mr Biden’s victory to resign.
“Both [Mr Hawley] and [Mr Cruz] have betrayed their oaths of office and abetted a violent insurrection on our democracy. I am calling for their immediate resignations. If they do not resign, the Senate must expel them,” Senator Sherrod Brown tweeted on Sunday.
I am calling for their immediate resignations.
If they do not resign, the Senate must expel them.
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) January 9, 2021
Freshman Democratic Congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri has introduced a measure in the House to censure and remove anyone who voted to throw out the 2020 presidential election results, a step that would oust the top two Republicans in the chamber — Mr McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise.
That’s in addition to House Democrats’ apparent plans to impeach Mr Trump next week for his sluggish reaction to the massive security breach at the Capitol that he himself helped incite.
The GOP lawmakers who voted against Mr Biden’s victory last week could also see their campaign donations wane.
Marriott International Inc., the largest chain of hotels in the world, and the US health insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield Association have suspended donations to such lawmakers, Reuters reported on Sunday.
“We have taken the destructive events at the Capitol to undermine a legitimate and fair election into consideration and will be pausing political giving from our Political Action Committee to those who voted against certification of the election,” Marriott spokeswoman Connie Kim said in a statement.
While it is unlikely Mr Cruz, Mr Hawley or any others will be kicked out of office — two-thirds of their colleagues would have to vote to boot them — a handful of other Republican lawmakers have pinned blame on them for the destruction and violence at the Capitol on Wednesday.
Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who has called on Mr Trump to resign, did not explicitly say Mr Cruz and Mr Hawley should do the same. But he did have choice words for his Senate colleagues.
Mr Cruz and Mr Hawley are “going to have a lot of soul searching to do,” Mr Toomey said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
“And the problem is they were complicit in the big lie, this lie that Donald Trump won the election in a landslide and it was all stolen,” Mr Toomey said, echoing a speech from President-elect Joe Biden in which he termed Republicans’ 2020 stolen election conspiracy theory “the Big Lie.”
Mr Toomey added that Mr Cruz and Mr Hawley “compounded that with this notion that somehow this could all be reversed in the final moments of the congressional proceedings. So that’s… going to haunt them for a very long time.”
Mr Toomey predicted that Mr Cruz and Mr Hawley would “pay a big price” for their false promises to block the electoral results.
“I think their reputations have been affected. You’ve seen the kind of reaction in the media back in their home states, so their constituents will decide the final way to adjudicate this,” Mr Toomey said.
The Pennsylvania senator was referring to a scathing piece from Houston Chronicle’s editorial board published on Friday blaming Mr Cruz for his role in encouraging the pro-Trump riots at the Capitol on 6 January.
“Cruz had helped spin that web of deception [about the election being stolen] and now he was feigning concern that millions of Americans had gotten caught up in it,” the editorial read.
“Those terrorists wouldn’t have been at the Capitol if you hadn’t staged this absurd challenge,” the Chronicle’s editorial board wrote, referring to Mr Cruz.