Washington, Dec 15 (efe-epa).- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the second-most-powerful Republican in the United States, offered congratulations Tuesday to Democrat Joe Biden for his victory in the Nov. 3 election.
“The Electoral College has spoken. So today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden,” the Kentucky lawmaker said in a speech on the Senate floor a day after the Democratic challenger’s triumph over Republican Donald Trump became official.
Though the election was called for the Democrat on Nov. 7, McConnell, like most of his fellow Republicans in both houses of Congress, had declined to acknowledge Biden as president-elect amid Trump’s baseless allegations of massive fraud.
“The president-elect is no stranger to the Senate. He’s devoted himself to public service for many years,” McConnell said, alluding to the more than three decades Biden spent as a senator before serving as vice president under Barack Obama.
The majority leader likewise extended best wishes to Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris.
“I also want to congratulate the vice president-elect, our colleague from California, Sen. Harris. Beyond our differences, all Americans can take pride that our nation has a female vice president-elect for the first time,” McConnell said.
While unwilling until now to recognize Biden as president-elect, the 78-year-old Kentuckian said more than once in the weeks following the election that institutions would function normally to ensure an orderly transition on Jan. 20, the date of the presidential nomination.
Even as he congratulated Biden and Harris, the Senate majority leader lavished praise on the outgoing president.
“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,” he said.
McConnell’s remarks on the Senate floor came just hours after Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador congratulated Biden.
Putin, according to the Kremlin, sent Biden a telegram wishing “every success to the president-elect.” Accused of having meddled on Trump’s behalf four years ago, the Russian government indicated that it would have nothing to say about the 2020 election before the result was official.
Lopez Obrador told reporters that once the Electoral College voted, he wrote to Biden as “president-elect of the United States of America.”
AMLO, as he is known, was criticized for delaying recognition of Biden’s victory, yet given the history of Trump’s threat to levy tariffs on Mexican imports if Mexico did not act to block the flow of migrants from Central America, not provoking the ire of the current occupant of the White House could be seen as prudent.
Despite the vote in the Electoral College, Trump persisted Tuesday in claiming that he was cheated.
“Tremendous evidence pouring in on voter fraud. There has never been anything like this in our Country!,” he said on Twitter.
Last Friday, the US Supreme Court refused to hear a lawsuit brought by the Republican attorney general of Texas seeking to overturn the election result.
With the failure of that and various other judicial challenges filed by lawyers for the president, the focus of die-hard Trump supporters has shifted to the Jan. 6 session of Congress to certify the Electoral College vote.
Some Republican members of the House of Representatives say they plan to challenge the certification.
But to be considered, a challenge must be endorsed by at least one member of each chamber, and a number of Republican senators have already expressed opposition to such an effort.
Moreover, rejecting a state’s electoral votes requires approval from both chambers, a seemingly insurmountable hurdle in light of Democrats’ control of the House. EFE llb/dr