US president-elect Joe Biden has spoken with Mitch McConnell and says they will meet soon, after the Republican Senate Majority Leader ended his silence on the presidential election held six weeks ago.
McConnell congratulated Biden and vice president-elect Kamala Harris on their November 3 victory in Congress on Tuesday, a day after the Electoral College formalised the Democrats’ win.
The senator was among many Republicans who had not acknowledged Biden’s defeat of President Donald Trump, who has continued his unfounded claims of election fraud and refused to concede.
Biden told reporters he spoke with McConnell before heading to Georgia, where he will campaign for two Democratic Senate candidates whose January 5 run-offs could make or break his domestic policy agenda.
“While we disagree on a lot of things, there are things we can work together on,” Biden told reporters.
“We agreed to get together sooner (rather) than later.”
Hours after their call, McConnell told reporters lawmakers would not leave Washington this year until agreeing on a new coronavirus economic relief package.
Congressional leaders are meeting on Tuesday as they seek to finalise a funding bill and end a stand-off on economic relief.
McConnell and his top deputies pressed other Senate Republicans not to join with any House Republicans who may object to the election outcome when Congress meets on January 6 to ratify the decision.
Any such effort to challenge the results is almost certain to fail since it would require approval by both chambers, including the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives.
Also on Tuesday, Biden was congratulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a favorite of Trump’s, and Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Biden and Harris will be sworn in on the steps of the US Capitol on January 20 with far fewer people present than is customary due to the raging coronavirus that has killed more than 300,000 Americans.
Biden has pressed ahead with building his cabinet.
He has reportedly chosen Pete Buttigieg, his former Democratic presidential nomination rival, to lead the Transportation Department.
Buttigieg, 38, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, would be the first LGBTQ person nominated to Biden’s administration and, if confirmed, the first LGBTQ cabinet secretary approved by the Senate.
US Representative Deb Haaland of New Mexico is said to be Biden’s leading choice to head the Interior Department, a selection that would make her the first native American to lead a cabinet agency.
Biden’s trip to Atlanta comes nine days after Trump travelled to Georgia in support of the Republican senators seeking re-election.
Biden’s narrow win in Georgia last month underscored the southern state’s transformation from Republican stronghold to competitive political battleground.
If the Republicans win either contest, they will maintain Senate control, allowing them to thwart many of Biden’s legislative goals on issues such as the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and climate change.
A Democratic sweep would give Biden control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.