“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and top Republican lawmakers on Monday refused to recognize Joe Biden as the president-elect, defending President Donald Trump as he continues to launch unsubstantiated allegations about widespread voter fraud.
McConnell, like many other Senate Republicans, neither repeated Trump’s false claims that Democrats are trying to “rig” and “steal” the election, nor publicly pressured the president to concede. Their reluctance to recognize Biden’s victory two days after he secured enough Electoral College votes highlights the grip that Trump still holds on the GOP, even as he will likely soon be leaving the White House. For now, they’re sticking with the president”
“Trump has continued to assert that there were widespread irregularities in several states but has so far provided no evidence. He falsely claimed on Twitter that he won the election, even as Biden on Saturday secured the necessary 270 electoral votes to win the White House, according to numerous media projections. The president has even suggested the election was “stolen” from him, but his campaign has lost several court fights already.”
“Senate Republicans said they expect the disputes to be resolved sooner rather than later. One GOP senator, speaking on condition of anonymity to candidly describe the party’s thinking, said “most people recognize where this is headed and that clearly Biden is leading in enough states to win, but let’s not rush the process.”
So far, only four Republican senators — Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Susan Collins of Maine — have acknowledged Biden’s victory and referred to him as the president-elect.
But like McConnell, most Senate Republicans have refused to publicly acknowledge that Biden will become the next president, even though they admit that’s going to happen in private. While Biden is already aggressively planning his transition to power, GOP senators are deferring to the Trump campaign’s pending legal challenges to the election results in various battleground states.”
“Even as Biden’s team is preparing for the transfer of power, a top political appointee in the Trump administration is thus far refusing to officially certify Biden as the president-elect. Such a declaration is necessary in order to kick-start the presidential transition process; specifically, it would unlock resources for Biden’s team, including federal funding and access to the federal agencies that will need staffing.
Republicans largely declined to weigh in on whether the appointee, General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy, should certify Biden as the winner, though Collins went as far as to say that Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris “should be given every opportunity to ensure that they are ready to govern” when they take office on Jan. 20.”
“Republicans know such aid is necessary just as well as Democrats. They say in the press that these are concessions, things they are giving up, but why should anyone else adopt that absurd framing?
By theatrically “conceding” money for hospitals, Republicans get the optics of a bipartisan achievement while ensuring that they define the limits of the possible.
Now House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is saying that it wasn’t a concession at all to give up funding for states, that governors are just being “impatient,” and that the next stimulus bill will contain state and local aid “in a big way.” She envisions a thoughtful, phased approach, based on demonstrated need. But there’s little reason to think Republicans will cooperate.
Think back to the debt ceiling fight of 2011. Raising the debt ceiling was also something every independent analyst agreed was necessary to keep the economy healthy. But Republicans framed it as a Democratic ask, something for which they could extract enormous concessions. They were entirely willing to gamble with the economy.”
“When Democrats pushed for state aid and McConnell suggested that it was a “blue state bailout,” an attempt to rescue fiscally irresponsible blue-state governors who had let their pension obligations get too large, he knew full well that it was bullshit. There is no moral hazard in a pandemic. There’s no point means testing states. It’s not a reward to states to bolster their budgets when consumers are literally being told by the government to stay home. It’s one reason the federal government exists.
And red states need money too — there are, after all, red-state governors pleading for help.
It makes no sense, but McConnell’s not trying to make sense. He’s just trying to put Dems on the defensive and force them to fight for the basics. He wants to frame state aid as a concession to Democrats and send a signal to the right-wing base that Democrats are up to something shady. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass about pension obligations. This is a 1,000 percent cynical maneuver. (Now Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has picked up this nonsense and run with it.)
The same goes for McConnell’s sudden concern that stimulus spending might raise the deficit too much.
More than almost any other purported GOP principle, deficit concern comes and goes depending on the party’s immediate interests. It was nowhere to be found in 2017 when McConnell’s own Congress passed a giant tax cut for corporations that will add $2.6 trillion to the deficit over the next 10 years. It was nowhere to be found when Trump ran up the deficit, or when George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, or Ronald Reagan ran up the deficit.”
“for the last 15 years, McConnell has heard pundits tell him that it’s risky to obstruct too much, attack too hard, violate norms too flagrantly, or act too openly against the national interest for partisan gain. Pundits wring their hands endlessly about such things.
Democrats have heard and internalized those messages. They worry about how they look to the media and political class. But McConnell has completely ignored them, and it has redounded to his benefit again and again.
When he refused to hold confirmation hearings on Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016, everyone in the political ecosystem (outside of conservative media) warned him of the dangers, the grave risk to comity and tradition and institutional integrity. He blew them all off. For his troubles, he got Brett Kavanaugh.
(Last month, McConnell said that he would happily hold a confirmation vote on a Trump Supreme Court nominee, even in the last year of a Trump presidency. Critics accused him of hypocrisy. He didn’t care.)
McConnell used the filibuster to block everything Obama tried, and then when Democrats killed the judicial filibuster, he used that to pack the federal bench, winning on both sides.”
“It’s pretty hard to find any important issue that he hasn’t switched positions on at some point or another when it was convenient for him. Whether it’s abortion or campaign spending or many other issues, he just switches like a chameleon when he needs to and I hadn’t really realized how many times he’s done this and how easily he did it.”
“I interviewed one of McConnell’s biographers, Alec MacGillis, and he pointed to the same thing: There’s just no consistent commitment to anything in McConnell’s political life except for winning the next election.”