Jan 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

McConnell's plan to save the Senate

Sen. Mitch McConnell

Photo: Rod Lamkey Pool/Getty Images

Before senators begin debating an expected challenge to Arizona's Electoral College vote Wednesday, Sen. Mitch McConnell will deliver a weighty speech trying to save the Senate from itself, people familiar with his plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: The majority leader had hoped to keep his fellow Republicans from challenging the 2020 election results, but now that over a dozen senators will, the history-lover aims to keep his party from even deeper self-inflicted wounds.

What we’re hearing: During a Joint Session with the House, lawmakers plan to object first to Arizona's results, which come up early in the alphabetical roll call of states. McConnell is expected to be the first senator to speak after he and his colleagues return to their chamber.

  • McConnell will draw on the same principles he laid out during a call with the Republican conference last week. He said Wednesday's vote certifying Joe Biden's victory would be "the most consequential I have ever cast.”
  • McConnell fears the vote will put Republicans up for re-election in 2022 in a horrible position — forcing them to choose between defying the most popular politician in the party, Donald Trump, and fueling Democratic charges they are undermining democracy.
  • The speech is sure to deepen President Trump's anger with McConnell, who referred to him tonight as part of "the weak and ineffective RINO section of the Republican Party."
  • The remarks also will be McConnell's first in public following today’s pivotal Senate runoffs in Georgia.

Between the lines: The speech will create a clear separation between Republicans who are tethered to reality versus those with concerns — and further political ambitions — that mirror Trump’s.

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