McConnell congratulates Biden on victory, acknowledging him as president-elect

Posted at 11:10 AM, Dec 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-15 13:10:55-05

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged Joe Biden as the president-elect for the first time on Tuesday, more than a month after Mr. Biden won the presidential election. McConnell waited until the Electoral College formally voted to elect Mr. Biden on Monday, officially finalizing the election results.

"Our country has, officially, a president-elect and a vice-president elect," McConnell said in a speech on the Senate floor. "I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden."

President Trump has refused to concede, even as dozens of lawsuits brought by his campaign challenging the outcome have failed, and the Supreme Court has twice declined to hear cases seeking to overturn the election results. The president continues to falsely insist that the election was rigged, promoting unfounded claims of voter fraud. More than 100 Republican members of the House endorsed one of the lawsuits rejected by the Supreme Court that sought to overturn the election results in four states.

However, more congressional Republicans have begun acknowledging that Mr. Biden will be inaugurated on January 20. Senate Majority Whip John Thune, 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. Mr. Biden received 306 electoral votes to 232 for Mr. Trump.

GOP Senator John Cornyn, a close ally of McConnell, 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.

"I think there comes a time when you have to realize that, despite your best efforts you've been unsuccessful, that's sort of the nature of these elections. You got to have a winner. You got to have a loser," Cornyn said.

A wave of Republican lawmakers on Monday acknowledged Mr. Biden's victory. Senator Mike Braun said in a statement that "the Electoral College has cast their votes and selected Joe Biden as the President-elect." Senator Rob Portman similarly said that "the Electoral College vote today makes clear that Joe Biden is now President-Elect." Senator Shelley Moore Capito told reporters that it's "time to turn the page and begin a new administration."

McConnell said in his speech on the Senate floor that he looks forward to "finishing our next 36 days strong with President Trump." Congress must pass an omnibus spending measure before government funding runs out on December 18, and lawmakers are also working on a coronavirus relief package, both of which would need to be signed by Mr. Trump to become law.