McConnell: 2020 Election Left Neither Party With ‘Mandate for Sweeping Ideological Change’

January 19, 2021 Updated: January 19, 2021

The 2020 election left neither Republicans nor Democrats with a “mandate” from Americans to seek partisan bills, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday, attempting to rebut a narrative promoted by leading Democrats.

Speaking as the Senate returned from a break, McConnell said the election “did not hand any side a mandate for sweeping ideological change.”

“Americans elected a closely divided Senate, a closely divided House, and a presidential candidate who said he’d represent everyone,” McConnell said from the Senate floor in Washington. “So our marching orders from the American people are clear: we’re to have a robust discussion and seek common ground. We are to pursue bipartisan agreement everywhere we can and check and balance one another respectfully where we must. And through all of this we must always keep in mind that we’re all Americans. We all love this country, and we’re all in this together.”

Republicans lost the White House and the Senate, which will be 50-50 under Democratic control later this month once three senators-elect are sworn in. But the GOP gained considerably in the House, slicing the Democrats’ majority from 35 to 10.

Democratic nominee Joe Biden, now the president-elect who’s set to be inaugurated on Jan. 20, told Americans shortly after the election that voters “have given us a mandate for action on COVID, the economy, climate change, systemic racism,” mentioning several issues where Democrats and Republicans differ greatly on how to go about things.

Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden speaks as he lays out his plan for combating the coronavirus and jump-starting the nation’s economy at the Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware on Jan. 14, 2021. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has used similar language, telling CBS’ “60 Minutes” this month, “I do know that it was a mandate for us to go forward with an agenda for America’s working families.”

And Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who spoke after McConnell on Tuesday, said the Senate would work with Biden and the House to “finally address the major challenges confronting our country.”

“We will consider bold legislation to defeat the climate crisis by investing in clean infrastructure and manufacturing, which will create millions of good jobs for Americans regardless of zip code,” he said, adding that he expects action on healthcare, childcare, income inequality, the tax code, and immigration.

The first bill Senate Democrats will introduce as a majority in this Congress would be “a package of long overdue reforms to protect our democracy after it has been so attacked in four years and guarantee every American’s right to vote,” Schumer said.

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