Now playing
04:40
Alabama voters struggle with supporting Moore
BIRMINGHAM, AL - DECEMBER 12: Democratic U.S. Senator elect Doug Jones greets supporters during his election night gathering the Sheraton Hotel on December 12, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. Doug Jones defeated his republican challenger Roy Moore to claim Alabama's U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by attorney general Jeff Sessions. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
BIRMINGHAM, AL - DECEMBER 12: Democratic U.S. Senator elect Doug Jones greets supporters during his election night gathering the Sheraton Hotel on December 12, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. Doug Jones defeated his republican challenger Roy Moore to claim Alabama's U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by attorney general Jeff Sessions. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:00
Doug Jones' victory in Alabama: the key moments
BIRMINGHAM, AL - NOVEMBER 18: Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Doug Jones takes questions from reporters at a fish fry campaign event at Ensley Park, November 18, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. Jones has moved ahead in the polls of his Republican opponent Roy Moore, whose campaign has been rocked by multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
BIRMINGHAM, AL - NOVEMBER 18: Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Doug Jones takes questions from reporters at a fish fry campaign event at Ensley Park, November 18, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. Jones has moved ahead in the polls of his Republican opponent Roy Moore, whose campaign has been rocked by multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:13
Meet Alabama's new Democratic Senator (2017)
BIRMINGHAM, AL - DECEMBER 12:  Voters wait in line to cast their ballot at a polling station setup in the St Thomas Episcopal Church on December 12, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. Alabama voters are casting their ballot for either Republican Roy Moore or his Democratic challenger Doug Jones in a special election to decide who will replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate.  (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
BIRMINGHAM, AL - DECEMBER 12: Voters wait in line to cast their ballot at a polling station setup in the St Thomas Episcopal Church on December 12, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. Alabama voters are casting their ballot for either Republican Roy Moore or his Democratic challenger Doug Jones in a special election to decide who will replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the U.S. Senate. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:51
Alabama voters deeply divided on racial lines
hillary clinton 12.12
hillary clinton 12.12
Now playing
01:11
Hillary Clinton reacts to Doug Jones' victory
Now playing
01:38
Democratic win changes Senate, impacts Trump
Guest iso 11p special coverage
Guest iso 11p special coverage
Now playing
01:23
Barkley: AL has rednecks and amazing people
Now playing
00:49
Roy Moore: It isn't over
Alabama Senate Race Election Coverage
Pool
Alabama Senate Race Election Coverage
Now playing
01:17
Jones: We have shown the country we can unify
BIRMINGHAM, AL - DECEMBER 12: Democratic U.S. Senator elect Doug Jones greets supporters during his election night gathering the Sheraton Hotel on December 12, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. Doug Jones defeated his republican challenger Roy Moore to claim Alabama's U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by attorney general Jeff Sessions. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
BIRMINGHAM, AL - DECEMBER 12: Democratic U.S. Senator elect Doug Jones greets supporters during his election night gathering the Sheraton Hotel on December 12, 2017 in Birmingham, Alabama. Doug Jones defeated his republican challenger Roy Moore to claim Alabama's U.S. Senate seat that was vacated by attorney general Jeff Sessions. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:02
Trump on Jones win: A hard fought victory
Democratic senatorial candidate Doug Jones speaks during a "get out the vote rally," Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/AP
Democratic senatorial candidate Doug Jones speaks during a "get out the vote rally," Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Now playing
02:00
CNN Projection: Doug Jones elected to US Senate
Now playing
01:02
Santorum: Voters expect Senate to do their job
Actor and Comedian Keegan-Michael Key sent in his endorsement for Democratic nominee for US Senate Doug Jones which appeared on Jones' Twitter page.
@GDouglasJones/Twitter
Actor and Comedian Keegan-Michael Key sent in his endorsement for Democratic nominee for US Senate Doug Jones which appeared on Jones' Twitter page.
Now playing
01:57
Doug Jones touts celebrity endorsements
CNN
Now playing
04:28
Tapper on closing days of Alabama Senate race
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images/Scott Olson/Getty Images
Now playing
04:34
Lemon: A day of reckoning in Alabama
FAIRHOPE, AL - DECEMBER 05:  Republican Senatorial candidate Roy Moore speaks during a campaign event at Oak Hollow Farm on December 5, 2017 in Fairhope, Alabama. Mr. Moore is facing off against Democrat Doug Jones in next week's special election for the U.S. Senate.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
FAIRHOPE, AL - DECEMBER 05: Republican Senatorial candidate Roy Moore speaks during a campaign event at Oak Hollow Farm on December 5, 2017 in Fairhope, Alabama. Mr. Moore is facing off against Democrat Doug Jones in next week's special election for the U.S. Senate. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:16
Alabama voters weigh in on Moore's comments

Story highlights

Roy Moore is the Republican candidate for a US Senate seat in Alabama

Republicans in Congress don't know what to do with Moore should he win

(CNN) —  

Since the sexual assault allegations against Roy Moore first went public last month, Republicans in the Senate have gone to great lengths to distance themselves from their potential colleague.

Close to half of the 52-member majority promptly called for him to drop out of the Alabama Senate race. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said an ethics investigation is “almost certain” to take place if Moore becomes the next senator from Alabama. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona even wrote a check to Moore’s Democratic opponent – and then tweeted a photo of it.

But few are willing to go as far Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, who last month said the Senate should vote to “expel” him.

On the eve of the special election between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, many Republicans – even some of Moore’s fiercest critics – were wary of wading into the hypothetical question of how to handle his possible arrival to Washington.

“I hope that Alabama voters choose the Democrats,” Flake told reporters Monday night at the Capitol.

And if not?

“We’ll see,” the retiring Arizona senator said.

The Tuesday election comes less than a week after Senate Democrats rained down calls on Minnesota Sen. Al Franken to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment, attempting to send a signal of zero tolerance in the upper chamber.

One of the more immediate questions looming is whether Moore will be accepted into the GOP conference and given committee assignments, especially as he undergoes investigation as expected. Moore sharply denies the allegations made against him, and any probe would likely be a lengthy and arduous affair.

“Let’s see what happens tomorrow. Let’s address it after that,” said Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, said on Monday night. “Let’s see what happens.”

Sen. Richard Shelby, the senior senator from Alabama who refused to vote for Moore, said Monday that such decisions were for McConnell. “That’s beyond me,” he said. “First let’s see what happens tomorrow and then go from there.”

But McConnell also said that’s a question for later. “That’s a good conversation for sometime after tomorrow,” McConnell said in an interview with CNN Monday.

While many senators support the idea of the ethics probe, any talk of expulsion carries far more weight. The Senate has only voted to expel 15 senators in the past, according to the Senate’s historical records.

Republican senators have publicly struggled with the issue of potential expulsion, expressing sharp disdain for Moore on the one hand, but showing concern about balancing the people’s will with the autonomy of the Senate on the other.

“I’ll have a hard time, quite frankly, keeping somebody in the body that I think molested a child, but we’ll see what happens,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on CNN. “We’ll see what the people of Alabama say. But the Senate will also speak. There’s a process within the Senate to regulate membership of the body. From a political point of view there is no winning with Roy Moore in my view.”

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine mulled over the idea at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast less than two weeks ago. “If the voters of the state, fully knowing all of these allegations, nevertheless choose to elect Roy Moore, is it appropriate for the Senate to expel him?” Collins asked. “I think that’s a really difficult question, and I don’t know the answer to that yet.”

One Republican senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, has not publicly withdrawn his support for Moore’s candidacy. He declined to answer questions Monday night in the Capitol.

CNN’s Manu Raju and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.