The majority Republican Senate on Thursday passed a resolution committing to a peaceful transfer of power one day after President Trump and a White House reporter sparred over the language in a press conference.
The nonbinding resolution was offered by West Virginia's Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, The Hill reported, and was passed by unanimous consent.
"It's a shame that we have to come and reaffirm our commitment to our country, our Constitution and who we are as a people," Manchin said from the Senate floor. "Sometimes we hear things that challenge that and we heard that yesterday and we were very concerned about that."
In the resolution, the Senate reaffirms "its commitment to the orderly and peaceful transfer of power called for in the Constitution of the United States," and gives its support to the idea that "there should be no disruptions by the president or any person in power to overturn the will of the people of the United States."
Asked Wednesday whether he would support a peaceful transfer of power, Trump responded, "We'll see what happens," adding, "Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won't be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation. The ballots are out of control. You know it, and you know who knows it better than anyone else? The Democrats know it better than anyone else."
Asked about the comments during Thursday's press briefing, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeatedly noted that the reporter who asked the original question to the president works for Playboy, and that his question was worded such that it included a "transfer of power" even if Trump is declared the winner on Nov. 3.
She said, "The president will accept the results of a free and fair election."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other top Republicans earlier Thursday repudiated Trump's refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, assuring American voters the lawmakers would accept the outcome of November's election.
Democrats accused Trump of threatening American democracy and further politicizing his upcoming choice to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by suggesting the yet-to-be named nominee would intervene in the election's outcome.
Republicans invoked the guarantees of the U.S. Constitution, but did not openly condemn Trump.
"The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th. There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792," McConnell wrote in a tweet.
McConnell was joined by fellow Republicans, including Senators Marco Rubio and Mitt Romney and Representative Liz Cheney, who leads the House of Representatives Republican Conference.
"It will be a smooth transition regardless of the outcome," House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters.
Trump, who trails Biden in national opinion polls, has long sought to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election, claiming that mail-in voting would be rife with fraud.
A record number of Americans are expected to vote by mail this year to avoid the coronavirus, and Democrats hope mail-in ballots will help to motivate large numbers of voters who oppose Trump.
In 2016, Trump also raised questions about whether he would accept the results of the election, which he went on to win.
"President Trump, you are not a dictator and America will not permit you to be one," said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who took to the Senate floor to call the president "the gravest threat" to U.S. democracy.
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders said in a speech in Washington that Trump was "prepared to undermine American democracy in order to stay in power," and called for an independent commission to oversee the upcoming elections.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi cautioned against panicking over the remarks of a president who she said admires autocratic leaders. But at a news conference, she advised Trump: "You are not in North Korea, you are not in Turkey, you are not in Russia."
Republican Senator Mike Rounds asked what would happen if Trump won. "If President Trump wins the election, will those on the far left agree to be peaceful when the election is complete? We don't need property damage and we don't need bodily injury," he told reporters.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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