Dec 15, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: McConnell alerted White House before congratulating Biden

 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, and Mark Meadows, White House chief of staff, are seen in the Capitol
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called White House chief of staff Mark Meadows Tuesday morning to say he planned on congratulating Joe Biden on winning the Electoral College and would officially address him as president-elect on the Senate floor, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: The Senate leader had resisted public demands to acknowledge Biden's victory despite the president's losing court battles, holding off until electors had formally given Biden the 270 votes he needed to secure his win on Monday. The delay underscored that McConnell still needs President Trump to back must-pass legislation before leaving office, one of the sources said.

  • The Kentucky Republican — whose wife, Elaine Chao, serves in the president's Cabinet — did not speak directly with Trump.

Beyond Trump's help in the Senate, McConnell also needs the support of Trump voters in the pivotal Georgia Senate runoff elections next month. Republicans must win both races or face a 50-50 split Senate with the Democrats, and Vice President Kamala Harris, casting tie-breaking votes in her party's favor.

  • McConnell also made clear during a phone call Tuesday afternoon he doesn’t want Senate Republicans doing anything to jeopardize incumbents up for reelection in the critical 2022 midterms.

Yes, but: McConnell's courtesy call to the White House didn’t stop Trump from tweeting an article quoting Rep. Mo Brooks. The Alabama Republican asserted: "‘Trump Won the Electoral College' - I Can Be a Part of the ‘Surrender Caucus‘ or I Can Fight for Our Country,” just moments after McConnell spoke.

  • A spokesperson for McConnell declined to comment. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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