Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has found himself in a tight position of late, vis-a-vis both his own Republican and the opposition Democratic Party. The Kentucky lawmaker, on one hand, has irked the pro-Donald Trump voices in the GOP by acknowledging Joe Biden as the president-elect and on the other, left the Democrats fuming by blocking the new bill to raise direct coronavirus relief package payments to Americans from $600 to $2,000. In both cases, however, McConnell’s position was in conflict with President Trump, a man he has supported on many other occasions to disappoint the critics.
Axios cited informed sources to report that McConnell, 78, attended an “extraordinary” conference call on Thursday (December 31) morning with fellow GOP senators and said that his vote to certify Biden’s victory in the 2020 election will be “the most consequential I have ever cast”. The report added that the call materialized after Missouri Senator Josh Hawley defied McConnell’s wishes and publicly vowed to object to certifying the Electoral College (EC) votes in states like Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
Hawley, who turned 41 on Thursday, December 31, said he will raise his objections to Biden’s victory next week when the Congress meets to confirm the Democrat as the next president and force votes in the House and Senate that are likely to delay the final certification of the former veep’s win. Trump is yet to concede defeat in the November 3 election and has pushed his loyalists in the party to pursue baseless charges to challenge the outcome.
In December, the EC confirmed Biden won by 306-232 amid the failure of the Trump camp to get any legal relief to reverse the results. A number of Republicans in the Democratic-controlled House have already said that they will object on the incumbent president’s behalf during the congressional counting of the EC votes on January 6 and they needed just one senator to go along with them to force voting in both the chambers of the legislature.
McConnell’s latest words, however, mean that the GOP is imploding on the issue. The veteran had earlier asked his party senators against forcing the vote in the Congress for he believes doing that would put those GOP members seeking re-election in 2022 in a great disadvantage. But his remarks will undoubtedly add fuel to the anger of the president who tweeted on Thursday, December 31: “JANUARY SIXTH, SEE YOU IN DC!”
Thousands of Trump supporters are expected to be in DC on the day to protest the 2020 election results.
The Axios report also cited the sources saying that McConnell considers the January 6 vote as “a vote of conscience”. The Republican, according to one of the sources, said that he has spent 36 years in the Senate and has been party to a number of big votes, be it in war or impeachment. “And in my view, just my view, this will be the most consequential I have ever cast,” he was quoted as saying.
GOP members not happy with Hawley’s plan
The source said that McConnell was not happy with the fact that many Republican senators are being asked to turn around the results just because Trump didn’t get as many EC votes and lost the election by more than seven million ballots.
Axios said a number of GOP senators are also disappointed with Hawley for pressuring them to abide by what the outgoing president is setting up as an ultimate test of loyalty on January 6. It also revealed that during the call, McConnell even asked Hawley to explain what he is intending to do on January 6. Indiana Senator Todd Young and his Pennsylvania counterpart Pat Toomey also confronted Hawley over his plans. “There was just one problem: They were met with silence. Hawley hadn’t dialed into the conference call — a fact first reported by Politico’s Alex Isenstadt ,” Axios added.
Hawley, who has no plans to withdraw his plan to object to Biden’s win, has been fundraising off of his mission and also emailed his colleagues in the Senate explaining ‘his reasoning and copy-pasting a public press release he issued the day before to announce his decision’, the report said. In his email, Hawley said he was reacting to pressures from his constituents.
Also on December 31, McConnell blocked once again a quick passage of the raised stimulus checks and called the proposal, which has been backed by Trump, as “socialism for rich people”. His rigid stance on the matter drew a backlash from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who asked: “The majority leader helped lead this body to pass Trump’s tax bill. You want to talk about socialism for the rich Mr. Majority Leader?!”