Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) addressed the U.S. Senate from the Senate floor late on Wednesday night following the violence that broke out at the Capitol Building.
“The United States Senate will not be intimidated,” McConnell said. “We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs, or threats. We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation. We are back at our posts. We will discharge our duty under the Constitution for our nation. And we are going to do it tonight.”
“This afternoon, Congress began the process of honoring the will of the American people and counting the Electoral College votes,” McConnell continued. “We have fulfilled this solemn duty every four years for more than two centuries. Whether our nation has been at war or at peace, under all manner of threats, even during an ongoing armed rebellion and Civil War, the clockwork of our democracy has carried on. The United States and the United States Congress have faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today. We have never been deterred before and we will not be deterred today. They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed.”
“This failed attempt to obstruct the Congress, this failed insurrection, only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our Republic,” McConnell continued. “Our nation was founded precisely so that the free choice of the American people is what shapes our self-government and determines the destiny of our nation. Not fear. Not force. But the peaceful expression of the popular will.”
“We assembled this afternoon to count our citizens’ votes and formalize their choice of the next president,” McConnell concluded. “Now we are going to finish what we started. We will complete this process the right way, by the book. We will follow our precedents, our laws, and our Constitution to the letter. And we will certify the winner of the 2020 presidential election. Criminal behavior will never dominate the United States Congress. This institution is resilient. Our democratic republic is strong. The American people deserve nothing less.”
.@senatemajldr: The United States Senate will not be intimidated. We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats. We will not bow to lawlessness of intimidation. We are back at our post…They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed.” pic.twitter.com/OyA0jok8QZ
— CSPAN (@cspan) January 7, 2021
Earlier in the day, McConnell gave a fiery speech that went viral online:
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.
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