The Republican leader’s statement, delivered in a speech on the Senate floor, ends weeks of silence over the election result. It came a day after state-appointed electors met and officially affirmed Biden’s election win.
“I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden,” McConnell said.
“Many of us had hoped the presidential election would yield a different result,” he said. “But our system of government has the processes to determine who will be sworn in on Jan. 20. The Electoral College has spoken.”
McConnell called Biden someone “who has devoted himself to public service for many years.” He also congratulated Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, saying “all Americans can take pride that our nation has a female vice president-elect for the very first time.”
McConnell prefaced his remarks with sweeping praise for what he characterized as Trump’s “endless” accomplishments during four years in office. He said 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.
McConnell’s remarks follow a groundswell of leading Republicans who said Monday for the first time that Biden is the winner of the presidential election, essentially abandoning Trump’s assault on the outcome after the Electoral College certified the vote.
For his part, Trump continued to push allegations of voter fraud in a new tweet on Tuesday.
With states affirming the results, less-supportive Republicans faced a pivotal choice — to declare Biden the president-elect, or keep standing silently by as Trump sought victory through courts and state legislatures due to overwhelming evidence of vote fraud.
“At some point you have to face the music,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the NO. 2 GOP leader. “Once the Electoral College settles the issue today, it’s time for everybody to move on.”
Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, the chairman of the inaugural committee, said the panel will now “deal with Vice President Biden as the president-elect.”
Just last week, the Republicans on the inauguration committee had declined to publicly do so. He said Monday’s Electoral College vote “was significant.”
Some GOP lawmakers have vowed to carry the fight to Jan. 6 when Congress votes to accept or reject the Electoral College results. Others have said Trump’s legal battles should continue toward resolution by inauguration day, Jan. 20.
“It’s a very, very narrow path for the president,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a top Trump ally. “But having said that, I think we’ll let those legal challenges play out.”
GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who volunteered to argue a case brought by his state before the Supreme Court, was holding a telephone town hall Monday urging “participation in the fight to defend the integrity” of the election.
One House Republican, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, has vowed to challenge the Electoral College results on Jan. 6, when Congress convenes a joint session to receive the outcome.
At that time, any challenge in Congress would need to be raised by at least one member of the House and Senate. It’s unclear if any GOP senator will join in making the case. It appears highly unlikely there is enough congressional support to overturn the election.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Monday that it’s as if Biden has to win “again and again and again” before Republicans will accept it.
Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., introduced a resolution in Congress last week suggesting no one be declared president-elect until all investigations are completed. He proposed it after constituents confronted him last month demanding he do more to support Trump.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.