President-elect Joe Biden returned to Georgia on Monday to help boost Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock a day before voters determine if the new administration’s agenda will have an easier time getting through Congress.
The Peach State runoffs mark the end of the tumultuous 2020 election cycle, which continues to be pilloried by President Donald Trump, who has alleged without evidence that widespread voter fraud caused his November loss.
“You voted in records numbers in November and we won, three times here with each recount,” Biden told Atlanta voters during a drive-in rally on Monday, mocking Trump’s repeated legal challenges over the outcome. “Now we need you to vote again in record numbers.”
Biden came to the state’s most populous city a day after Vice President-elect Kamala Harris swooped through Savannah, another area where Democrats saw high turnout in winning the presidential race two months prior.
Trump is also making a stop in northern Georgia on Monday to help boost Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. The dueling visits underscore the importance of the election to both parties; the results will either energize or stall the Biden administration’s agenda in Congress.
Fifty Republican senators were sworn into the 117th Congress this week along with 48 senators who will caucus with the Democrats. If both Ossoff and Warnock prevail Tuesday, the Senate is tied at 50-50 and Harris would be the tie-breaking vote as president of the Senate.
Biden said a win by both Democrats would make it easier for the incoming administration’s priorities to get done around health care, climate change and other issues.
Specifically, the president-elect said, the Senate being Democratic hands would make COVID-19 vaccine plans and other relief legislation, such as funding for state and local government, easier to pass.
One immediate result voters would notice if Ossoff and Warnock win would be higher direct payments to individuals and families in economic distress due to the coronavirus, Biden said.
“Their election will put an end to the block in Washington on that $2,000 stimulus check,” he said. “That money will go out the door immediately to people who are in trouble.”
If either Democrat challenger loses, however, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., retains control of the upper chamber of Congress.
Much has been said about Biden and McConnell’s past working relationship, but Democrats say it would be far better for their progressive agenda to get the Senate out of GOP hands.
“If Mitch McConnell and the Republicans hold onto the Senate they will try to do to Joe and Kamala exactly like they tried to do to President (Barack) Obama,” Ossoff told the crowd Monday ahead of Biden’s appearance. “We have too much good work to do for things to be ground to a halt in our nation’s capital.”
Biden’s surprising presidential win in Georgia came after decades of Republican control of the state. Georgia hasn’t nominated a Democrat to the Senate in 20 years.
As a result of the president’s unexpected loss in the state, Trump has had sharp exchanges with Georgia’s top Republican state officials, including a controversial phone call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger where the president pressured the official to “find” more votes to change the outcome.
Trump hammered Raffensperger, saying on Sunday how the GOP secretary of state was, “unwilling, or unable,” to answer questions about various unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud.
“He has no clue!” Trump tweeted.
“Respectfully, President Trump: What you’re saying is not true,” Raffensperger responded. “The truth will come out,”
Biden made no direct reference to Trump’s call with state election officials during Monday’s rally, but he did criticize Perdue and Loeffler for failing to speak out more forcefully against the president’s actions.
“You have two senators who think their loyalty is to Trump, not to Georgia. You have two senators who think they’ve sworn an oath to Donald Trump, not the the U.S. Constitution,” Biden said.