Mitch McConnell: Congress Cannot Overturn Election

Mitch McConnell: Congress Cannot Overturn Election
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is seen during the joint session of Congress in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Kevin Dietsch/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in rare agreement with his Democratic counterpart, on Wednesday said Congress cannot change the results of the election, after legislators objected to Arizona's electoral votes.

"Every election we know features some illegality and irregularity, and of course that's unacceptable. I support strong state-led voting reforms. Last year's bizarre pandemic procedures must not become the new norm. But my colleagues, nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale that would have tipped the entire election. Nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence," McConnell said on the Senate floor.

McConnell said he supported President Donald Trump's legal efforts to challenge election results and noted that some of the judges who ruled against the president were nominated by the Republican himself.

"The Constitution gives us here in 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. They've all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever," he added. "The Electoral College margin is almost identical to what it was in 2016. If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral. We would never see the whole nation accept an election again. Every four years would be a scramble for power at any cost."

During the congressional session to count electoral votes, GOP lawmakers objected to votes from Arizona, alleging "they were not under all of the known circumstances, regularly given."

That triggered a two-hour debate in each session, in which backers and critics could make their cases.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) joined McConnell in deriding the effort, saying "Congress does not determine the outcome of elections, the people do."

"By the end of the proceedings today, it will be confirmed once again something that is well known and well settled—the American people elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be the next president and vice president of the united states," he added.

President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in file photographs. (AP Photos)
President Donald Trump (L) and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in file photographs. (AP Photos)
According to electoral votes cast in states last month, Biden received 306 votes to Trump's 232. But Trump and some of his allies say election irregularities in key swing states such as Georgia and Pennsylvania tipped the scales. Over 100 GOP lawmakers supported objecting to electoral votes from certain states.

Trump called for lawmakers to object while a Biden spokesman called objections a "stunt" based on "baseless claims."

During the debate in the other chamber, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) told colleagues that he was objecting to votes from a number of states, which he alleged "did not follow the constitutional requirement for selecting electors."

In those states, including Arizona, secretaries of state changed election processes without approval from the legislatures, he said.

"We've seen more and more states where the Democrat Party has gone in and selectively gone around this process," he said. "That has to end. We have to follow the constitutional process."