McConnell: Don't 'Nationalize How We Handle Elections'

By Susan Jones | November 18, 2020 | 6:05am EST
Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Leave our election system alone, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told his weekly news conference on Tuesday:

"What I have emphasized is one of the beauties of the American election system is we have 50 separate ways to conduct them. Every state is different. It ought to stay that way. We ought not to try to nationalize how we handle elections. States know how to do it."

McConnell credited the Trump administration with minimizing foreign intervention in the 2020 election:

One of the great success stories of the current administration is, you noticed you have all not been writing about foreign intervention, the dramatic improvement from 2016 under the Obama administration to 2020 under the Trump administration, the coordination between Homeland Security and secretaries of state in charge of conducting elections all around the country.

I know when things don't happen, they tend not to make a headline, but no indication any foreign intervention succeeded. The elections were smoothly conducted, but the decision as to how the elections end happen in 50 different places.

So naturally, we are going to see election certification in the states that are still close and in doubt in Georgia, in Pennsylvania, in Michigan, in Nevada. Once those certifications occur, if they occur based upon litigation that is being tried at various places, those will be final, the Electoral College will meet in December, and the inauguration will be on January 20.

McConnell repeated that the courts will deal with any post-election disputes, as they should; "And we are going to have an orderly transfer from this administration to the next one," he said. "What we all say about it is, frankly, irrelevant. All of this will happen...right on time, and we will swear in the next administration on January 20."

McConnell was careful not to specify who will be taking the oath of office on January 20th.

Meanwhile, he told the news conference he's focusing on the next couple of months:

"I think it's extremely important here in the next couple of months not to have any earthshaking changes with regard to defense and foreign policy. I think a precipitous drawdown in either Afghanistan or Iraq would be a mistake. I've so said publicly yesterday, and I hope that's precisely where these discussions end up."

McConnell hailed the two new COVID vaccines, and he said he hopes to pass another COVID relief package: "I believe the Speaker would like to do that. I would like to do that. Hopefully, that will be the view of the administration as well."

McConnell said he's open to passing a half-trillion-dollar bill, "which is not nothing." He noted that Democrats are pushing for a $2.5-trillion bill "or nothing."

The Republican bill, he said, is "narrowly targeted at schools, at healthcare providers, at PPP, and of course liability reform to keep America from being engaged in an epidemic of lawsuits on the heels of the pandemic -- very open to that."

McConnell said Republicans also will continue to confirm "well-qualified judges, largely to the district courts at this stage, and we intend to continue doing that as well until the end of the session."

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