Top GOP senators acknowledge Biden as president-elect after Electoral College vote

Several top Republican senators said Monday that they now consider Joe BidenJoe BidenJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Fill the Eastern District of Virginia  Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted MORE to be the president-elect after the Electoral College formally certified his White House win.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema McConnell gets GOP wake-up call Democrat on controversial Schumer speech: Timing 'may not have been the best' MORE (R-S.D.) became the highest-ranking senator to acknowledge Biden’s victory, saying that he was president-elect “as soon as he crosses the 270 vote threshold.”

"In my view that's how in this country we decide presidential elections. That's our Constitution, and I believe in following the Constitution," Thune told reporters shortly before Biden formally clinched 270 Electoral College votes.

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Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntHartzler pulls in 6,000 for Missouri Senate bid with .65M on hand McConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (Mo.), a member of GOP leadership and the No. 4 Senate Republican, added, "We've now gone through the constitutional process, and the electors have voted, so there's a president-elect." 

Blunt, who heads the committee responsible for planning the inauguration, added in a separate statement that he would "work with president-elect Biden and his presidential inaugural committee to plan for the swearing-in ceremony." 

Contact with Biden's team is already underway after the committee announced last month it would start coordinating planning. 

Asked if Biden was the president elect, Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoBiden's soft touch with Manchin, Sinema frustrates Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit Here are the 11 GOP senators who helped advance the debt extension MORE (R-W.Va.), a member of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Schumer, McConnell headed for another collision over voting rights MORE's (R-Ky.) leadership team, said that "it certainly looks that way." 

"I think it’s time to turn the page and begin a new administration," Capito said. 

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call Biden shows little progress with Abraham Accords on first anniversary The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (R-Ohio), another member of McConnell's leadership team, said that the "Electoral College vote today makes clear that Joe Biden is now President-Elect." 

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The acknowledgment from several members of GOP leadership comes after McConnell didn't respond to reporters' questions about Biden in the Capitol earlier Monday and hasn't weighed in on the Electoral College vote since Biden formally crossed the 270 mark.

Republican lawmakers have faced near daily questions in recent weeks about if they acknowledge Biden as the president-elect after most refused to do so after last month's election.

Only a handful of GOP senators had publicly acknowledged Biden's White House victory, and several were supportive of President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE's legal challenges.

Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration Authorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate MORE (R-Tenn.), a close McConnell ally who had previously called Biden the "apparent" president-elect, added on Monday night that "the presidential election is over." 

"I hope that President Trump will put the country first, take pride in his considerable accomplishments, and help president-elect Biden get off to a good start. Especially during this pandemic, an orderly transition of power is crucially important," he said in a statement. 

But even as many senators acknowledged Biden's win on Monday, Trump's allies in the House are poised to drag out the fight for weeks as they plan a long-shot effort to challenge the results next month in Congress. 

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSenators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention Tim Scott takes in .3 million in third quarter MORE (R-S.C.) said he now accepted Biden as the president-elect and disclosed on Monday that the two have already talked. 

"There's things we can do together, some things that we can't do together. It was a very pleasant conversation," Graham said of the conversation.  

Other GOP senators were less direct when asked in the Capitol if they consider Biden to be the president-elect, pointing to the Constitution. 

"I don’t have to. The Constitution does," said Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyFill the Eastern District of Virginia  On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (R-Iowa). 

Asked if he acknowledged him as such, Grassley reiterated, "I follow the Constitution." 

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoSunday shows preview: Senate votes to raise debt ceiling; Facebook whistleblower blasts company during testimony The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit Here are the 11 GOP senators who helped advance the debt extension MORE (Wyo.), the No. 3 Republican senator, called a query about Biden's status as president-elect a "gotcha question." 

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“It’s what every senator is being asked. Three weeks ago the transition occurred in terms of the president said access to the briefings and access to the money. That all occurred three weeks ago. So nothing changed,” he said. “This is the Constitution, and I believe in the Constitution.”

Others said Biden was president-elect pending litigation. Trump and his allies have faced dozens of setbacks, including the Supreme Court rejecting a case last week, as they've sought to overturn the election in key states. 

"They go through the Electoral College — yes — subject to any pending lawsuits that could change it. But we’re going through the standard process, and at that point in time, but then again you’ve got a couple more court cases that I expect to be settled, so pending that, yes," said Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisGOP rallies around Manchin, Sinema Advocates frustrated by shrinking legal migration under Biden Key debt-limit vote sparks major fight among Senate Republicans MORE (R-N.C.). 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCornyn raises more than M for Senate GOP Is the Biden administration afraid of trade? The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After high drama, Senate lifts debt limit MORE (R-Texas) said that he believed Biden is president-elect "subject to whatever additional litigation is ongoing." 

"I would say subject to any other litigation that could occur between now and Jan. 20, the answer is yes," he said. 

Updated at 8:50 p.m.