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GOP Lawmakers Reject Trump's Suggestion of Election Delay: U.S. Voted During 'Civil War,' '2 World Wars'

Newsweek logo Newsweek 8/1/2020 Benjamin Fearnow
Donald Trump et al. looking at a laptop: Republicans across the U.S. roundly rejected President Donald Trump's suggestion of delaying the 2020 presidential election, with GOP lawmakers noting Americans voted during the Civil War, two World Wars and a previous pandemic. © MANDEL NGAN / Staff/Getty Images Republicans across the U.S. roundly rejected President Donald Trump's suggestion of delaying the 2020 presidential election, with GOP lawmakers noting Americans voted during the Civil War, two World Wars and a previous pandemic.

Several Republican lawmakers rejected President Donald Trump's suggestion of delaying the 2020 presidential election, with GOP lawmakers noting Americans voted during the Civil War, two World Wars and a previous pandemic.

Top Republicans ranging from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy rebuked Trump's Thursday tweet calling to "Delay the Election." The GOP leaders agreed Trump should highlight concerns over potential voter fraud, but McConnell told Kentucky's WNKY-TV that "never in the history of this country" had a federal election not occurred on its scheduled date.

McConnell and Texas GOP Representative Michael Burgess reminded Trump Americans have voted during far more deadly crises throughout history -- and that he doesn't have the constitutional authority to delay the November 3 election.

"This country has voted through all kinds of turmoil and trouble in the past. The country was able to vote during the Civil War, able to vote through two world wars and a previous pandemic," Burgess told local Dallas-Fort Worth station WFAA-TV Saturday. He joined fellow Texas Republican lawmakers, including Senators Ted Cruz, John Cornyn and Governor Greg Abbott, in criticizing the president's suggestion.

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"Obviously he doesn't have the power to do that," Cornyn told the Dallas Morning News Thursday, before adding that Trump likely said it as a joke "so all you guys in the press, your heads will explode."

"Never in the history of this country, through wars, depressions and the Civil War, have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time. We will find a way to do that again this November 3," McConnell recently responded.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the president does not have the authority to reschedule a presidential election even amid an emergency of any kind. Only Congress has the power to authorize such a move. Should Trump somehow delay the election, he and Vice President Mike Pence are still mandated to leave office by noon on January 20 under the 20th Amendment. The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 dictates that if no successor is chosen, then the Speaker of the House, which is currently Nancy Pelosi, would be sworn in as president.

Trump ignited speculation and bipartisan ridicule last Thursday when he tweeted, "With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???"

His latest suggestion elicited immediate rejection from even some of his closest Republican allies across the country.

Missouri Republican Senator Roy Blunt also pointed to U.S. history and told the Kansas City Star: "The United States held elections during the Civil War, the 1918 [Spanish Flu] pandemic and World War II. There is no justification for changing the date of the upcoming November elections."

Florida GOP Congressman Matt Gaetz, an ardent Trump supporter, defended mail-in voting and offered his absolute support for an "election that's on-time, fair and honest." And Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger tossed in his opposition to Trump's election delay plan, saying he will "oppose any attempts to delay the 2020 election."

Newsweek reached out to the White House, the Federal Election Commission, and McConnell's office for additional remarks Saturday afternoon.

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Video: President Trump suggests delaying 2020 election, drawing pushback from both parties (NBC News)

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