Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) officially acknowledged Joe Biden as the president-elect for the first time since the Nov. 3 election Tuesday, becoming the highest-ranking Republican in congratulating the Democrat just a day after the Electoral College formally made the election results official.
McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor said that while millions wished the election would have yielded a different result, “the Electoral College has spoken.”
“Many of us hoped that the presidential election would yield a different result, but our system of government has processes to determine who will be sworn in on Jan. 20. As of this morning, our country has, officially, a president-elect and a vice president-elect,” McConnell, declared from the Senate floor Tuesday morning. “So today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden. The president-elect is no stranger to the Senate. He’s devoted himself to public service for many years.”
The majority leader also congratulated Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on becoming the nation’s first vice president.
“I also want to congratulate the vice president-elect, our colleague from California — Senator Harris. Beyond our differences, all Americans can take pride that our nation has a female vice president-elect for the very first time.”
McConnell’s congratulatory remarks came after a lengthy speech, where the Senate top Republican touted President Trump’s accomplishments the last four years. He described the accomplishment as “nearly endless,” pointing to policies including the 2017 GOP tax law and “perhaps most importantly” the confirmation of three conservative Supreme Court justices, as well as “economic prosperity,” “foreign policy,” and “bold regulatory changes.”
“Over the last four years, our country has benefited from a presidential term filled with major accomplishments. President Donald Trump has repeatedly surprised the skeptics, confounded his critics, and delivered significant policy victories that have strengthened our country,” McConnell said. “The outsider who swore he would shake up Washington and lead our country to new accomplishments, both at home and abroad proceeded to do exactly that. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence deserve our thanks and our gratitude for their tireless work and their essential roles in all these victories and in many more.”
“It would take far more than one speech to catalog all the major wins the Trump administration has helped deliver for the American people,” McConnell added.
For weeks, McConnell had declined to acknowledge Biden’s victory, citing that no state has officially certified its results while defending Trump’s ongoing legal challenges.
“President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” McConnell said in a floor speech a week after Election Day. “If any major irregularities occurred this time of a magnitude that would affect the outcome, then every single American should want them to be brought to light.”
Following Monday’s Electoral College vote, in which Biden won 306 electoral votes to 232 for Trump, a growing number of GOP lawmakers began to recognizing publicly accepting Biden’s victory.
Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD), the second highest-ranking Republican in the Senate, told reporters on Monday that it was time to “move on.”
“I understand there are people who feel strongly about the outcome of this election. But in the end, at some point, you have to face the music. And I think that once the Electoral College settles the issue today, it’s time for everybody to move on,” Thune said.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told reporters on Monday that he believed it would be a “bad mistake” for Republican lawmakers to attempt to challenge the election outcome when Congress formally counts and certifies the results next year.
However, many prominent GOP figures said they are waiting for Congress to certify the Electoral College results on Jan. 6. Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and John Barrasso of Wyoming were among those that said “not yet” when pressed by reporters after the electoral votes if they were ready to acknowledge Biden’s victory.
Shortly after McConnell spoke, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took to the floor, saying, “For the sake of the country President Trump should take his cue from leader McConnell that it’s time to end his term with a modicum of grace and dignity,” adding, “enough is enough.”
“Our Republican colleagues for the sake of our democracy, for the sake of the peaceful transition of power, should stop the shenanigans, stop the misrepresentations and acknowledge that Joe Biden will be the next president,” Schumer said.
Trump showed no signs of backing down his election challenge, declared on Twitter just after McConnell spoke, saying there is “tremendous evidence pouring in on voter fraud.”
Tremendous evidence pouring in on voter fraud. There has never been anything like this in our Country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2020