Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told his colleagues Wednesday that they should not attempt to overturn the Electoral College victory for President-elect Joe Biden.
What are the details?
"This will be the most important vote I've ever cast," McConnell said at the outset of a sober speech delivered from the Senate floor, adding that he supported President Donald Trump's desire to contest the election results, which were mired in controversy and hit with numerous charges of fraud.
But McConnell added that after recounts and court proceedings, the results stood — and therefore the outcome must be accepted and supported.
"Every election we know features some illegality and irregularity, and, of course, that's unacceptable," he said. "I support strong state-led voting reforms. Last year's bizarre pandemic procedures must not become the new norm. But, my colleagues, nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale — the massive scale that would have tipped the entire election, nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence."
He added that Congress members have a "limited role" when it comes to election results: "We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids. The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken. They've all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever. ... If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral. We would never see the whole nation accept an election again. Every four years would be a scramble for power at any cost."
McConnell continued, "The Electoral College, which most of us on this side have been defending for years, would cease to exist, leaving many of our states with no real say at all in choosing a president."
In one of the more stirring moments of his address, McConnell observed that "we cannot keep drifting apart into two separate tribes with a separate set of facts and separate realities with nothing in common except our hostility toward each other and mistrust for the few national institutions that we all still share."
Democrats don't get off the hook
McConnell didn't let Democrats off the hook either, for contesting Electoral College results as recently as in the aftermaths of the 2000, 2004, and 2016 elections.
"After 2004, a senator joined and forced the same debate, and believe it or not, Democrats like Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, and Hillary Clinton ... praised them and applauded the stunt," he recalled. "Republicans condemned those baseless efforts back then, and we just spent four years condemning Democrats' shameful attacks on the validity of President Trump's own election."
More from his speech:
So look, there can be no double standard. The media that is outraged today spent four years aiding and abetting Democrats' attacks on our institutions after they lost. But we must not imitate and escalate what we repudiate. Our duty is to govern for the public good. The United States Senate has a higher calling than an endless spiral of partisan vengeance. Congress will either override the voters, overrule them — the voters, the states, and the courts — for the first time ever or honor the people's decision.
We'll either guarantee Democrats' delegitimizing efforts after 2016 become a permanent new routine for both sides or declare that our nation deserves a lot better than this. We'll either hasten down a poisonous path where only the winners of [an] election actually accept the results, or show we can still muster the patriotic courage that our forebears showed not only in victory but in defeat.
McConnell concluded, "It would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise American voters and overrule the courts and the states on this extraordinarily thin basis. And I will not pretend such a vote would be a harmless protest gesture while relying on others to do the right thing. I will vote to respect the people's decision and defend our system of government as we know it."
Here's the full video of his speech:
Senator Mitch McConnell Full Remarks on Electoral College youtu.be