Full Text of Mitch McConnell's Speech Before 'Most Important' Vote of His Career

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came out guns blazing as the Senate debated objections to certifying Joe Biden's electoral college win, criticizing fellow Republicans and saying the Senate doesn't have the power to declare itself a "national board of elections on steroids."

McConnell stood by President Donald Trump for weeks after the election but officially recognized Joe Biden as president-elect when the Electoral College voted to certify his win on Wednesday. Although disappointed with the election results, McConnell said voting to object to the results would set a dangerous precedent that would "damage our republic forever."

The Senate majority leader noted that the election between Trump and Biden wasn't "unusually close" and overturning the election by "mere allegations from the losing side" would send America's democracy into a "death spiral." If an objection holds, McConnell noted that the effects would be seen every four years when legislators "scramble for power at any cost," effectively killing the Electoral College that "most of us on this side have been defending for years."

Since the objection to Arizona's electoral votes was signed by both a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence allowed the two chambers to vote on it, as it met the requirements of the law. However, it's unlikely the effort will receive the majority vote needed in the Democrat-led House or even the Republican-controlled Senate to stand.

mitch mcconnell senate objection trump election
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a scathing speech on the Senate floor and criticized objections to the Electoral College vote. McConnell arrives at the U.S. Capitol and walks to his office on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Drew Angerer/Getty

Read Mitch McConnell's full speech below:

We're debating a step that has never been taken in American history, whether congress should overrule the voters and overturn a presidential election. I've served 36 years in the Senate. This will be the most important vote I've ever cast. President Trump claims the election was stolen. The assertions range from specific local allegations to constitutional arguments to sweeping conspiracy theories.

I supported the president's right to use the legal system. Dozens of lawsuits received hearings in courtrooms all across our country, but over and over, the courts rejected these claims, including all-star judges whom the president himself has nominated.

Every election we know features some illegality and irregularity, and of course that's unacceptable. I support strong state-led voting reforms. Last year's bizarre pandemic procedures must not become the new norm, but my colleagues nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale, the massive scale that would have tipped the entire election nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence.

The Constitution gives us here in Congress a limited role. We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids. The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken. They've all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever. This election actually was not unusually close.

Just in recent history, 1976, 2000, and 2004 were all closer than this one. The Electoral College margin is almost identical to what it was in 2016. If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral. We would never see the whole nation accept an election again. Every four years would be a scramble for power at any cost.

The Electoral College, which most of us on this side have been defending for years, would cease to exist, leaving many of our states with no real say at all in choosing a president. The effects would go even beyond the elections themselves. Self-government, my colleagues, requires a shared commitment to the truth and a shared respect for the ground rules of our system.

We cannot keep drifting apart into two separate tribes with a separate set of facts and separate realities. with nothing in common except our hostility towards each other and mistrust for the few national institutions that we all still share.

Every time, every time in the last 30 years that democrats have lost a presidential race, they have tried to challenge just like this. After 2000, after 2004, after 2016. After 2004, a senator joined and forced the same debate, and believe it or not, democrats like Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, and Hillary Clinton praised, praised and applauded the stunt. Republicans condemned those baseless efforts back then, and we just spent four years condemning democrats' shameful attacks on the validity of President Trump's own election.

So look, there can be no double standard. The media that is outraged today spent four years aiding and abetting democrats' attacks on our institutions after they lost. but we must not imitate and escalate what we repudiate. Our duty is to govern for the public good. The United States Senate has a higher calling than an endless spiral of partisan vengeance. Congress will either override the voters, overrule them, the voters, the states, and the courts for the first time ever, or honor the people's decision.

We'll either guarantee democrats' delegitimizing efforts after 2016 become a permanent new routine for both sides or declare that our nation deserves a lot better than this. We'll either hasten down a poisonous path where only the winners of an election actually accept the results or show we can still muster the patriotic courage that our forebears showed not only in victory but in defeat.

The framers built the senate to stop short-term passions from boiling over and melting the foundations of our republic. So I believe protecting our constitutional order requires respecting the limits of our own power. It would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise american voters and overrule the courts and the states on this extraordinarily thin basis. And I will not pretend such a vote would be a harmless protest gesture while relying on others to do the right thing. I will vote to respect the people's decision and defend our system of government as we know it.