Despite it long being clear that Biden had won, Senate Republicans have largely avoided defying Trump and referring to Biden as president-elect. They cautioned that Trump had a right to exhaust all of his legal options and boy did he.
But now that the Electoral College votes have been cast, senators are changing their tune. A series of senators conceded for the first time Monday that Joe Biden may have — according to the Constitution and pending any possible future legal appeals — won the election.
As senators returned to business Monday, many were asked by reporters whether they were ready to declare Joe Biden the winner of the election. Some did come out and definitively say that Biden won. Others seem to still be getting used to the idea. Here, per Capitol Hill pool reports, are some of their responses.
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Sen. John Barrasso, Wyoming
“That’s the gotcha question of the day. I know what the Constitution says, Article II, Section I, and I know that the Electoral College voted today, so to me, that tells us a lot.”
Q: “So based on the Electoral College vote is it done, in your mind?”
“Well, I follow the Constitution.”
Sen. Thom Tillis, North Carolina
“You know, they got through the Electoral College, yes, subject to any pending lawsuits that could change it. But we’re going through the standard process and at that point in time — then again, you’ve got a couple more court cases that I expect to be settled. So pending that, yes.”
Sen. Kevin Cramer, North Dakota
"Well, it seems to me that being elected by the Electoral College is a threshold where a title like that is probably most appropriate and it's, I suppose you can say official — if there is such a thing as official president-elect, or anything else–elect. And there's an inauguration that will swear somebody in and that person will be the president of the United States, but whether you call it that or not, you know, there are legal challenges that are ongoing — not very many — probably not a remedy that would change the outcome but, so, I don't — again I don't know how politician refers to another politician, but it does look to me like the big race is really between the inaugural committee and the Justice Department at this point, so we'll see how the emails turn out."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina
“Yeah, yeah it’s a very, very narrow path for the president. I don't see how it gets there from here, given what the Supreme Court did. But having said that, I think we'll let those legal challenges play out.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa
Q: “Is it time to acknowledge Biden as president-elect?”
“I don’t have to — the Constitution does.”
Q: “And do you acknowledge him as president-elect?”
“I follow the Constitution.”
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Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa
“I’m just really excited Iowa voted for President Trump, so … I think we’ll start to see the process rolling out, like it or not. I know for Iowans it’s disappointing, but the process is what it is and the process will be followed.”
Q: “So that means Biden is president-elect?”
“If that’s what the Electoral College decides today.” (The Electoral College did decide that today.)
Sen. Mike Crapo, Idaho
“My answer consistently has been we have a system of law in the United States and the Electoral College is part of that, and once the Electoral College has spoken then, uh, and then President Trump has the right to his legal challenges like anybody else does, and until both are resolved we have to watch it.”
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas
“I think he's president-elect subject to whatever additional litigation is ongoing. I'm not aware of any. Obviously, the Texas case was not successful as I believed. But I would say, subject to any other litigation that could occur between now and January 20, the answer yes.”
Senate Majority Whip John Thune, South Dakota
"As soon as he crosses the 270 vote threshold, I mean there are still a couple of, I guess, last steps in the process, but in my view, that's how in this country we decide presidential elections, that's our Constitution, and I believe in following the Constitution."