Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell congratulated Democrat Joe Biden on Tuesday, calling him the president-elect and saying the electoral college “has spoken.”
The Republican leader’s statement, delivered in a speech on the Senate floor, ends weeks of silence over President Donald Trump’s defeat. It comes after electors met Monday and affirmed Biden’s election win.
“As of this morning, our country has officially a president-elect and a vice-president-elect,” said McConnell.
“Many millions of us had hoped the presidential election would yield a different result,” McConnell said. “But our system of government has the processes to determine who will be sworn in on Jan. 20. The electoral college has spoken.”
With respect to Biden, McConnell said the Democrat was “no stranger to the Senate” and “has devoted himself to public service for many years.” Biden and McConnell overlapped in the Senate for a period of 24 years, until Biden served as vice-president under Barack Obama.
McConnell also recognized the historic accomplishment of Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, who has been a senator representing California.
“Beyond our differences, all Americans can take pride that our nation has a female vice-president-elect for the very first time,” the Kentucky Republican said.
McConnell prefaced his remarks with praise for Trump’s four years in office, saying Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence “deserve our thanks.” The Senate leader cited Trump’s nomination and ensuing Senate confirmation of three Supreme Court justices, among other accomplishments.
WATCH l Biden gives remarks after states sign off on electoral college votes:
McConnell had said last month after Biden passed the threshold of 270 electoral college votes that Trump should be allowed to pursue all legal challenges related to the election. Those challenges have been overwhelmingly rejected by the courts, who have cited a lack of evidence or a lack of standing.
Mo Brooks, a conservative Republican congressman, has vowed to file challenges to the election result when Congress formally reviews the vote on Jan. 6, though it is all but certain both chambers would reject his effort. Democrats control the House, while several moderate Republicans in the Senate have already publicly accepted Biden’s victory.
WATCH l McConnell recognizes Biden, Harris after electoral college step:
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, had a message for any Republican holdouts, as well as Trump.
“Leader McConnell’s Republican senators ought to follow suit. They ought to acknowledge that Joe Biden will be the next president and Kamala Harris will be the next vice-president,” said Schumer. “And 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, qualities that his predecessors took great pains to display during our grand tradition of a peaceful transfer of power.
“Enough is enough.”
Putin, Obrador congratulate Biden
The recognition by the most powerful Republican in Congress came after Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Biden on winning the U.S. presidential election.
The Kremlin had said earlier that the Russian president would hold off on congratulating Biden until the winner was officially confirmed. “We are just waiting for the end of the internal political confrontation,” Putin said last month, referring to numerous Republican challenges to the vote count.
In his message earlier Tuesday, Putin wished Biden “every success,” according to a Kremlin statement Tuesday, and expressed confidence that “Russia and the U.S., which bear special responsibility for global security and stability can, despite the differences, really contribute to solving many problems and challenges that the world is currently facing.”
The Russian president noted that “the Russian-American co-operation based on the principles of equality and mutual respect would meet the interests of the people in both countries and the entire international community.”
“For my part, I am ready for interaction and contact with you,” Putin was quoted by the Kremlin as saying.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also congratulated Biden on Tuesday in a formal letter. Obrador was also waiting for the electoral college verification.