U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks last week regarding the Electoral College challenge in Congress:
“We are debating a step that has never been taken in American history: Whether Congress should overrule voters and overturn a presidential election.
“I have served 36 years in the Senate. This will be the most important vote I have ever cast.
“President Trump claims this election was stolen. The assertions range from specific local allegations to constitutional arguments to sweeping conspiracy theories.
“I supported the President’s right to use the legal system.
“Dozens of lawsuits received hearings in courtrooms across the country.
“But over and over, the courts rejected these claims — including all-star judges whom the President himself nominated.
“Every election features some illegality and irregularity and it’s unacceptable.
“I support strong state-led voting reforms. Last year’s bizarre pandemic procedures must not become the new norm.
“But nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale that would have tipped this entire election.
“Nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break when that doubt was incited without evidence.
“The Constitution gives Congress a limited role. We cannot simply declare ourselves a national Board of Elections on steroids.
“The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken.
“If we overrule them all, it would damage our republic forever.
“This election was not unusually close. Just in recent history, 1976, 2000, and 2004 were all closer.
“This Electoral College margin is almost identical to 2016.
“If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.
“We’d never see the whole nation accept an election again.
“Every four years would bring a scramble for power at any cost.
“The Electoral College would soon cease to exist, leaving the citizens of entire states with no real say in choosing presidents.
“The effects would go even beyond elections themselves.
“Self-government requires a shared commitment to truth and shared respect for the ground rules of our system.
“We cannot keep drifting apart into two separate tribes; with separate facts, and separate realities; with nothing in common except hostility toward each another and mistrust for the few national institutions that we still share.
“Every time in the last 30 years that Democrats have lost a presidential race, they’ve tried a challenge like this one — after 2000, 2004, and 2016.
“After 2004, a Senator joined and forced this same debate. Democrats like Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, and Hillary Clinton praised and applauded the stunt.
“ Republicans condemned those baseless efforts. And we just spent four years condemning Democrats’ shameful attacks on the validity of President Trump’s own election.
“There can be no double standard. The media that is outraged today spent four years aiding and abetting Democrats’ attacks on institutions after they lost.
“But we must not imitate and escalate what we repudiate.
“Our duty is to govern for the public good.
“The United States Senate has a higher calling than an endless spiral of partisan vengeance.
“Congress will either overrule the voters, the states, and the courts for the first time ever… or honor the people’s decision.
“We will either guarantee Democrats’ delegitimizing efforts after 2016 become a permanent new routine for both sides… or declare that our nation deserves better.
“We will either hasten down a poisonous path where only the winners of elections accept them… or show we can still muster the patriotic courage that our forebears showed, both in victory and in defeat.
“The framers built the Senate to stop short-term passions from boiling over and melting the foundations of our Republic.
“I believe protecting our constitutional order requires respecting limits on our own power.
“It would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise American voters and overrule the courts and the states on this thin basis.
“And I will not pretend such a vote would be a harmless protest gesture while relying on others to do the right thing.
“I will vote to respect the people’s decision and defend our system of government as we know it.”