Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday rebuked his Republican colleagues’ efforts to block the certification of the Electoral College, saying in an emotional speech on the Senate floor that overturning the results of the election “would damage our republic forever.”
Why it matters: In a complete break from President Trump and other Republicans, McConnell denounced “sweeping conspiracy theories” about widespread election fraud and said he “will not pretend” voting to overturn the election would be a “harmless protest gesture.”
Between the lines: McConnell fears the vote will put Republicans up for re-election in 2022 in a horrible position — forcing them to choose between defying the most popular politician in the party, Donald Trump, and fueling Democratic charges they are undermining democracy.
The speech comes hours after the country learned that Democrats were likely to take control of the Senate after winning the Georgia runoffs, making McConnell minority leader for the first time in six years.
Many Republicans are privately furious with Trump for blowing their Senate majority by spending the last two months attacking Republicans and condemning the presidential vote in Georgia as “rigged.”
What he’s saying: “I’ve served 36 years in the Senate. This will be the most important vote I have ever cast,” McConnell said.
“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 of 2016 become a permanent new routine for both sides, or declare that our nation deserves a lot better than this,” he continued.
“We will either hasten down a poisonous path where only the winners of elections actually accept the results, or show we can still muster the patriotic courage that our forebearers showed not only in victory, but in defeat.”