US Vice-President Mike Pence on Wednesday rejected pressure from President Donald Trump to refuse to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election win, saying he does not have the authority.

“It is my considered judgement that my oath to support and defend the constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,” Pence said in a statement prior to a joint session of Congress that convened on Wednesday to certify Biden’s win as the final stage of the US election process.

Pence’s refusal to comply with Trump’s wishes was expected as he had conveyed his decision to the president in a meeting on Tuesday — that he does not have the constitutional authority to reject or overturn the election.

But Trump had persisted, openly calling for his deputy to “come through”.

Congress started the process of certification as scheduled on Wednesday afternoon and will continue for hours as the president’s Republican allies will attempt to have the election overthrown, knowing they will fail.

The development came on the sidelines of a tense runoff contest in the state of Georgia, where the two parties were battling for two Senate seats up for grabs, which would eventually determine who controls the Senate.

A Democratic candidate was projected to win one of the two runoff elections in the state, while and a fellow party nominee expanded his lead in the second race on Wednesday, setting up a likely defeat for the Republicans in their stronghold.

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