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With the vote of the Electoral College Monday, many of the congressional Republicans who for weeks have resisted referring to Joe Biden as president-elect are now acknowledging the contest for the White House is over.
“It’s time for everybody to move on,” said John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican. While there is an opportunity for lawmakers to contest the electors’ votes, that effort is “not going anywhere.”
“I understand there are people who feel strongly about the outcome of this election but in the end, at some point you have to face the music,” he said.
Biden officially secured the presidency after Electoral College members cast their ballots for the candidate who won the popular vote in their states. The 55 votes from California’s electors put him above the 270 needed to win.
Biden, in an address Monday night, thanked the Republicans who have now recognized his victory.
“I’m pleased but not surprised by the number of my former Republican colleagues in the Senate who’ve acknowledged already the results of the Electoral College,” he said. “I thank them, and I’m convinced that we can work together for the good of the nation on many subjects.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has yet to say Biden was the winner, did not comment on Monday.
President Donald Trump so far has refused to concede and has vowed to press on with challenges, despite multiple defeats in court. Some of his backers are vowing to challenge acceptance of the electoral slates of key swing states when the Senate and House meet jointly on Jan. 6 to certify the results.
Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, told reporters that contesting the electors’ votes in Congress would be “futile and unnecessary,” and that such an effort, if made, would be voted down in overwhelming fashion.
Other Senate Republicans acknowledging that Biden would be the next president included Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa; and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.
Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, another member of the Republican leadership, said that while Trump might continue with his challenges, “the electoral vote today was significant.”
“We’ve met the the constitutional threshold and we’ll deal with Vice President Biden as the president-elect,” said Blunt, who also is chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
Last week, he joined with the other Republican members of that panel in blocking a resolution acknowledging preparations for Biden’s swearing-in. In a separate statement on Monday, he said the committee would “work with President-elect Biden and his Presidential Inaugural Committee to plan for the swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20.”
Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio said Trump has had a chance to challenge the results.
“The orderly transfer of power is a hallmark of our democracy, and although I supported President Trump, the Electoral College vote today makes clear that Joe Biden is now President-Elect,” he said in a statement.
Before Monday, most Republicans in Congress declined to acknowledge Biden’s win, and 126 House Republicans had even urged the Supreme Court to hear a Texas lawsuit seeking to throw the election to Trump. Most stayed mum even after the high court dismissed the lawsuit Friday night.
Even one of Trump’s most fervent allies, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said the president has largely run out of options.
“I don’t see how he gets there from here given what the Supreme Court did, but having said that, I think we’ll let those legal challenges play out,” Graham said.
Graham said he had spoken on the phone to Biden.
“I told him, there’s things we can do together, there’s some things we can’t do together. It was a very pleasant conversation,” Graham said.
Trump has urged political retribution against Republicans who opposed his efforts to reverse the results, including Republican Governors Doug Ducey of Arizona and Brian Kemp of Georgia.
That’s a particular concern for Republicans in Georgia, where two GOP Senators — Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue — face runoff elections Jan. 5 against Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in a showdown that will determine which party controls the Senate. Both have backed Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in court.
A clutch of Senate Republicans previously acknowledged Biden’s win, including Ben Sasse of Nebraska, who highlighted the Supreme Court’s ruling in a statement Friday night.
“Every American who cares about the rule of law should take comfort that the Supreme Court — including all three of President Trump’s picks — closed the books on this nonsense,” he said.
— With assistance by Emma Kinery, and Jennifer Epstein
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