On January 6, 2021, the U.S. House and Senate will get together to accept the electoral votes. If one House representative and one Senator decide to challenge the results, they are allowed to debate the votes for two hours, according to the Electoral Count Act. But the law isn't clear on whether or not the entire debate is limited to two hours, or if they can debate for two hours per electoral vote (all 528 of them). If Ted Cruz decides to debate every electoral vote it can create a delay that will set off a cascade of events that would prevent Biden from ever becoming President, according to Jeremy D. Mayer, an associate professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.
From his essay in The Hill:
Can anything be done to prevent this? Nothing can stop the delay. But the final maneuver of picking Pence by the Senate can be stopped in two ways. First, a few honest Republican senators could vote for Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, since her ticket actually won.
That would almost surely mean the end of their political career.
Failing that, Democratic senators would have to deny the Senate a quorum, which would mean neither chamber would have picked a winner. Under the 12th Amendment, two-thirds of all senators must be present. If 34 Democrats leave the chamber, they can stop Pence's selection. If they do, then all the GOP delay would have led to replacing Biden with … President Nancy Pelosi.
Of course, if the GOP really wanted to move America toward banana republic territory, the rules allow the sergeant-at-arms to arrest and drag senators back to the chamber to make a quorum. It's impossible to say if they'd go that far, or if it would succeed.
Will Ted Cruz and the GOP attempt such a coup? Their base will demand it. And given the fact that the GOP has been penetration testing every possible election process weakness they can find, it wouldn't be surprising if they do.
Image: By Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America – Ted Cruz, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65843466