'Electoral College Has Spoken': McConnell Belatedly Congratulates Biden On Win

Dec 15, 2020
Originally published on December 16, 2020 3:22 am

Updated at 1:19 p.m. ET

A day after the Electoral College made the results official, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for their victory.

McConnell joins a wave of new Republicans acknowledging the win on Monday.

"The Electoral College has spoken. So today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden," McConnell said from the Senate floor Tuesday. "The president-elect is no stranger to the Senate. He's devoted himself to public service for many years."

C-SPAN via / YouTube

Biden said he spoke to McConnell after the floor remarks and had "a good conversation."

"I called him to thank him for the congratulations, told him that while we disagree on a lot of things there's things we can work together on," Biden told reporters traveling with him to Georgia. He said he and McConnell agreed to get together soon. "I'm looking forward to working with him," Biden said.

McConnell's comments come more than a month after election results showed the Democratic win. Several moderate members of the GOP had already congratulated the president-elect in those first days and weeks, with more members joining them in recent days.

McConnell also took the opportunity on the floor to recognize Harris' historic win as the next vice president.

"I also want to congratulate the vice president-elect, our colleague from California, Sen. Harris," McConnell said. "Beyond our differences, all Americans can take pride that our nation has a female vice president-elect for the very first time."

McConnell made the remarks at the tail end of a speech on the Senate floor, acknowledging all of President Trump's accomplishments over the last four years — from new judges to progress building a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border to gains for the military.

"The list of American accomplishments since 2016 is nearly endless," McConnell said. "It would take far more than one speech to catalog all the major wins the Trump administration has helped deliver for the American people."

McConnell also closed out his remarks that it was time to end the Trump administration on a positive, bipartisan note.

"I look forward to finishing out the next 36 days strong with President Trump," he said.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Congress met late into the night last night to try to finally hammer out a deal on stimulus relief funds. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was seen leaving the Hill shortly before midnight. And now this morning, we are learning more about just how close the two sides are to coming up with a deal. NPR's Claudia Grisales has been talking to both sides, and she is with us now. Good morning, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: What are you hearing? Where is this deal at this point?

GRISALES: So it looks like they made a lot of progress last night. A deal has not been made, but they seem like they are very close. My colleague Kelsey Snell spoke to several folks here, and the sense is that it's a roughly $900 billion deal that could include direct payments.

Now, state and local aid, which is something that Democrats really wanted, doesn't appear to be part of the deal at this point, as well as a liability shield for businesses that have struggled during the pandemic. That is something Republicans want, and it sounds like they're looking at moving forward without both those elements in this. But they hope to address a lot of these other issues where it comes to businesses that are struggling and need these loans through the Paycheck Protection Program and other efforts.

MARTIN: So, I mean, that sounds like an actual compromise, where both sides give something up. I mean, were those the main sticking points?

GRISALES: The main sticking point was that state and local aid and the liability shield. This is where they couldn't reach an agreement, and they were held up for months. And this came again - up again - I'm sorry - in the last few weeks. And so this is something they're looking at putting aside completely because they just can't get on the same page and just move forward with what they agree with.

MARTIN: So what does this mean for people out there, Americans who desperately need relief right now? Is there going to be a round of stimulus checks?

GRISALES: That is what they are looking for. It would be less than $1,200, and this is compared to what we saw last time. And this is what they're telling my colleague Kelsey Snell. And so this is something that they're trying to keep at a lower level because they're trying to keep this amount for this aid under a trillion dollars. They're trying to keep it around that roughly $900 billion figure.

And also, if you'll recall, last week we saw Senator Bernie Sanders really push this issue and say - said there needs to be a debate on this floor about these direct payments. So this will address a lot of concerns. We also heard interest from the Trump administration to include these payments as well.

MARTIN: Right. I mean, there had been reporting - NPR had done reporting about how people who didn't even live in America anymore were getting some of these direct payments, and big organizations that didn't necessarily need relief. What does this mean for the timeline? If we're seeing this breakthrough right now, when's it actually going to get done?

GRISALES: This is pretty late in the - because the government will run out of money on Friday, and they're trying to include this aid with this overall massive funding bill. But they may need more time, and that means they may need to pass another temporary funding bill. We're on a one-week temporary measure right now that runs out on Friday. So they may need to do something like that again in order to close this deal out.

MARTIN: All right, NPR's Claudia Grisales, congressional reporter, with the latest. Again, Congress getting closer ever yet to reaching a deal for another round of pandemic-related relief. Claudia, thank you very much for your reporting. We appreciate it.

GRISALES: Thanks so much. Have a great one. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.