US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has congratulated Democratic President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their election victories, ending his long silence on the outcome of the presidential race.
In remarks on the Senate floor, McConnell acknowledged the Democrats’ win of the White House following Monday’s formal result issued by the Electoral College.
In a nearly 10-minute speech that mainly praised Republican President Donald Trump’s tenure in office, McConnell closed by saying: “Today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden,” adding that “he has devoted himself to public service for many years.”
McConnell, saying he had hoped for a “different result” in the Nov. 3 election, also said, “All Americans can take pride that our nation has a female vice president-elect for the very first time.”
On Tuesday, Biden said he had spoken with McConnell and that the two agreed to meet soon.
Biden told reporters he spoke with McConnell before heading to Georgia, where he will campaign later in the day for two Democratic US Senate candidates whose Jan. 5 runoff elections could make or break his domestic policy agenda.
“While we disagree on a lot of things, there are things we can work together on,” Biden told reporters. “We agreed to get together sooner (rather) than later.”
Relations with the Senate, currently controlled by the Republicans, will be crucial to Biden’s presidency.
President Trump still refuses to concede, making unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud.
Since early November, McConnell has ignored pressure to acknowledge Biden’s victory, saying Trump had the right to pursue legal challenges to the election outcome. He steadfastly refused to refer to Biden as president-elect.
McConnell’s acknowledgment all but assured Congress would not overturn the election results, as demanded by Trump, when the electoral votes are sent to lawmakers to be officially counted on Jan. 6.