Washington (AFP) - The US Senate's top Democrat warned his Republican colleagues Thursday that they were "poisoning" the country's democracy by continuing to refuse to acknowledge Joe Biden's presidential election victory last week.
Only a handful of Republicans have publicly congratulated Biden -- who himself served for decades in the Senate -- an awkward break with political tradition that has heightened the sense of polarization in Washington.
Several Republican lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have stood firm with President Donald Trump by supporting his refusal to concede the election and backing the flood of legal challenges that the party has introduced following the vote.
"We just had a divisive and hard-fought presidential election," a clearly frustrated Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters.
"But instead of working to pull the country back together so that we can fight our common enemy Covid-19, Republicans in Congress are spreading conspiracy theories, denying reality and poisoning the well of our democracy."
Instead of following political norms and extolling America's ongoing tradition of a peaceful transition of power, Republicans who have no evidence of significant electoral fraud are "denying reality" and "auditioning for profiles in cowardice," Schumer went on.
"Congressional Republicans are deliberately casting doubt on our elections for no other reason but fear of Donald Trump," he added, even after every major US media outlet called the race in Biden's favor.
Political experts have said Republicans may be invoking such a strategy as a way to rile up Trump's base before two US Senate runoff elections in Georgia that will determine which party controls the chamber.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also weighed demanding Republicans stop their "absurd circus" and turn to combatting the pandemic.
"Now that the people have expressed their views, Joe Biden has won (and) Kamala Harris will be the first woman vice president of the United States," Pelosi said.
Meanwhile, the current administration's continued delay in recognizing Biden's victory is posing "a serious risk to national security," warned 161 former national security officials, including some who worked with Trump.
In a letter, the group including ex-Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel and Trump's former National Security Counsel senior counterterrorism director Javed Ali urged General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy to recognize Biden as the apparent president-elect.
Without a GSA signoff, transition funds and other resources including access to intelligence briefings can not flow to Biden and his team, but Murphy has refused to budge.
"Further delaying the Biden team's ability to access the President's Daily Brief and other national security information and resources compromises the continuity and readiness of our national leadership, with potentially immense consequences for our national security," the group wrote.