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

Several top Republican senators said Monday that they now consider Joe BidenJoe BidenThe West needs a more collaborative approach to Taiwan Abbott's medical advisers were not all consulted before he lifted Texas mask mandate House approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act MORE to be the president-elect after the Electoral College formally certified his White House win.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneDemocrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill Senate GOP will force clerks to read bill to delay COVID-19 relief vote Parliamentarian strikes down Pelosi priority in aid package 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 BluntFive takeaways from dramatic Capitol security hearing Biden convenes bipartisan meeting on cancer research Pentagon prevented immediate response to mob, says Guard chief 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 CapitoPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Biden's unity effort falters Capito asks White House to allow toxic chemicals rule to proceed MORE (R-W.Va.), a member of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks DOJ declined to take up Chao ethics probe Trump was unhinged and unchanged at CPAC 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 PortmanFive takeaways from dramatic Capitol security hearing On The Money: Tanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief | Relief bill tests narrow Democratic majority | Senate confirms Biden's picks for Commerce, top WH economist Republican Ohio Senate candidate calls on GOP rep to resign over impeachment vote 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 TrumpHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill DEA places agent seen outside Capitol during riot on leave Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee MORE's legal challenges.

Sen. Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderCongress addressed surprise medical bills, but the issue is not resolved Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes 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 GrahamHere's who Biden is now considering for budget chief House Democratic leaders back Shalanda Young for OMB after Tanden withdrawal The Memo: Is Trump mounting a comeback — or finally fading? 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 GrassleyGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks National Sheriffs' Association backs Biden pick for key DOJ role Bipartisan group of senators introduces bill to rein in Biden's war powers MORE (R-Iowa). 

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

Sen. John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoInterior Department reverses Trump policy that it says improperly restricted science Biden returns to Obama-era greenhouse gas calculation Indigenous groups post billboards urging senators to confirm Deb Haaland 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 TillisMcConnell backs Garland for attorney general GOP senators demand probe into Cuomo's handling of nursing home deaths CNN anchor confronts GOP chairman over senator's vote to convict Trump MORE (R-N.C.). 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynSenate coronavirus bill delayed until Thursday Democrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill Bottom line 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.