Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took a stance that surprised some during a joint session of Congress to certify electoral votes today. McConnell opposed GOP objections to certify votes for President-elect Joe Biden, and said that if the election was overturned, “democracy would enter a death spiral.”
McConnell’s address was a part of the January 6, 2021 Congressional meeting to certify votes, which is typically a largely ceremonial affair. Several Republican lawmakers pledged to object to the certification of votes in key states. During the proceedings, the sealed certificates are presented for each state in alphabetical order. Vice President Mike Pence presides over the meeting as president of the senate and calls for any objections. Those objections must be made in writing, and must be signed by both a member of the House and a member of the Senate. McConnell’s speech came following an objection to certify votes in Arizona. Read on to read what McConnell said today and to watch his speech.
Here’s what you need to know:
McConnell Said the Election Was Not Unusually Close & to Overturn It Would Set a Dangerous Precedent
McConnell said the 2020 presidential election was not unusually close, and that overturning the election would be damaging.
“The voters, the courts, the states have all spoken. They’ve all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever,” he said. “This election, actually, was not unusually close.”
He noted that the presidential elections in 1976, 2000 and 2004 were all closer, and that the electoral college margin was “almost identical to what it was in 2016.”
“If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” he said.
McConnell dismissed some GOP lawmakers’ challenge to electoral college results, saying, the “United States Senate has a higher calling than an endless spiral of partisan vengeance.”
He further said that challenging the election results at the joint session would set a precedent for the future, and that future electorates would simply fight for the candidate they wanted to win instead of letting the American people choose their president. He warned against taking steps that would “guarantee the delegitimatizing efforts after 2016 is a permanent, new routine for both sides.”
McConnell further said, “Framers built the Senate to stop short-term passions from boiling over and melting the foundations of our republic. So I believe protecting our constitutional order requires respecting the limits of our own power. It would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise American voters and overrule the courts and the states on this extraordinarily thin basis.”
He concluded his speech with the statement, “I will vote to respect the people’s decision and defend our system of government as we know it.”
Debates Ended Abruptly When Protestors Outside the Senate Chamber Breached the Capitol Building
Debates at the joint session of Congress ended abruptly as pro-Trump protestors breached the U.S. Capitol at about 2:15 p.m. Eastern time. Vice President Mike Pence was whisked off-stage and the debate between senators stopped mid-speech.
The House doors were locked and an emergency alert from Capitol Police told those in the building to take shelter.
“Due to an INTERNAL threat in the building, take shelter in the nearest office and stay quiet,” the alert said.