Most Republican elected officials have yet to publicly acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump, who has refused to concede while lobbing false claims of widespread vote fraud in the Nov. 3 presidential election.
So it was a bit odd to see Republican senators congratulating ― and even fist-bumping ― Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), during a vote Tuesday on Capitol Hill.
The senator is a rare sight in the U.S. Capitol these days, but Democrats needed her present in the chamber on Tuesday to block the confirmation of Judy Shelton, Trump’s nominee to the Federal Reserve. They did so successfully with the help of two GOP senators, preventing Shelton’s nomination from advancing in a narrow 47-50 vote.
After voting against the nomination, Harris briefly stopped to say hello to some of her GOP colleagues. Up in the galleries above the Senate floor, reporters for CNN overheard Sens. Tim Scott (S.C.), James Lankford (Okla.), Mike Rounds (S.D.) and Ben Sasse (Neb.) offer congratulations.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) also offered his good wishes to Harris and gave the Californian a fist bump, even though he came under a firestorm of criticism this week when Georgia’s secretary of state, also a Republican, accused the out-of-state senator of trying to pressure him to toss out legally cast ballots.
The South Carolina senator, a top ally of Trump, has yet to acknowledge Biden’s win. Like other Republicans, he says Trump’s campaign should first get a chance to present evidence of voter fraud in court if any exists. (There is no evidence of widespread fraud. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has called the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.”)
Asked by HuffPost what he told Harris during their exchange on Tuesday, Graham said, “If it works out, congratulations.”
Lankford, another GOP senator who has yet to publicly acknowledge Biden’s win, asked Harris about “the food fight behind you in California,” an apparent reference to the frenzied effort to fill her Senate seat ― one made vacant only by her becoming vice president.
But the Oklahoma Republican downplayed the remark when asked by reporters after the vote, suggesting he was merely being courteous to a Senate colleague.
“The election’s not settled,” Lankford continued to maintain. “You can spin it however you want to, but if someone walks right up to you, you say, ‘Hello, congratulations.’”
He did not say what, exactly, he congratulated Harris on.
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