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As Biden passes 'safe harbor' milestone, Republicans on inaugural committee refuse to say he won

·Senior Editor
·4 min read
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Republicans on the Joint Congressional Committee on the Inaugural Ceremonies voted on Tuesday against a resolution stating that the committee was preparing for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., all voted against the resolution. The three Democrats on the committee, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who introduced the measure; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., voted in favor. The measure, which would have recognized what Democrats and some Republicans say is obvious — that Biden won the election — failed to pass on a 3-3 tie vote.

“The extent to which Republicans are refusing to accept the outcome of the election and recognize Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president is astounding,” Hoyer said in a statement released after the meeting of the committee. “Their continued deference to President Trump’s postelection temper tantrums threatens our democracy and undermines faith in our system of elections.”

The presidential inauguration traditionally occurs on the Capitol steps, although, owing to the coronavirus pandemic, plans for the ceremonies on Jan. 20 are in flux. Hoyer’s motion to recognize Biden and Harris as the winners was basically symbolic; the joint committee has no power to decide who gets inaugurated.

Still, Biden’s transition team said it looked forward to continued planning with the JCCIC.

"President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris will be sworn-in as the next President and Vice President of the United States on January 20, 2021,” Pili Tobar, communications director for the Biden Inaugural Committee said in a statement emailed to Yahoo News. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and plan a safe inauguration that engages Americans across the country."

Despite recounts in three battleground states and more than 20 legal defeats since Election Day, Trump continues to insist that he won the presidential race. In a written statement regarding “safe harbor day,” Tuesday’s federally mandated deadline by which states must resolve legal challenges to the certification of elections, Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis said the president would press on with his effort to overturn the results.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 27: (L-R) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) U.S. President Donald Trump listen during a signing ceremony for H.R. 748, the CARES Act in the Oval Office of the White House on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Earlier on Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the $2 trillion stimulus bill that lawmakers hope will battle the the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; and President Trump at the White House, March 27. (Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images)

“The ‘Safe Harbor Deadline’ is a statutory timeline that generally denotes the last day for states to certify election results. However, it is not unprecedented for election contests to last well beyond December 8,” the Giuliani-Ellis statement read, adding, “Despite the media trying desperately to proclaim that the fight is over, we will continue to champion election integrity until legal vote [sic] is counted fairly and accurately.”

Giuliani is hospitalized with COVID-19, and Ellis has tested positive for the virus.

Hoyer also noted the arrival of the safe harbor deadline.

“Today is the safe-harbor deadline, and states have now certified their results, confirming that Joe Biden will be the forty-sixth President of the United States and Kamala Harris will be the first woman and the first Black and South Asian American to serve as Vice President,” Hoyer said in his statement. “It is imperative that JCCIC proceed with plans for their inauguration and coordinate with the Biden Presidential Inaugural Committee.”

Blunt explained his vote against the measure by saying, “It is not the job of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies to get ahead of the electoral process and decide who we are inaugurating.”

Multiple news organizations declared Biden the winner of the 2020 election on Nov. 7, and the tallies of votes have confirmed those projections. In the popular vote, Biden beat Trump by more than 7 million votes. In the Electoral College, which meets next Monday to formally cast its votes, Biden is set to earn 306 votes to Trump’s 232. Congress will meet on Jan. 6, just two weeks before Inauguration Day, to count the electoral votes and certify a winner.

According to a survey by the Washington Post, just 27 Republican members of Congress are willing to go on record acknowledging Trump’s loss, although Biden began receiving presidential daily briefings on Nov. 30 and has announced his nominees for Cabinet posts and other officials.

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