Washington — Lawmakers have returned to the Capitol to continue counting Electoral College votes, hours after angry rioters overran the building and sent members of Congress fleeing in the most brazen assault on the pillars of American democracy in recent history. The Senate voted 93-6 to reject the objection to Arizona’s Electoral College votes, the first objection raised, and Congress voted 303-121 to reject it.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi vowed to resume the interrupted proceedings Wednesday evening. Senators returned to the Capitol under heavy guard, carrying with them the certificates of electoral votes that were rescued from rioters who broke into the chamber earlier in the day.
“The United States and the United States Congress have faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today. We’ve never been deterred before. And we’ll not be deterred today. They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after returning to the Senate. “This failed insurrection only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our republic.”
Chaos erupted inside the Capitol building Wednesday afternoon as thousands of pro-Trump demonstrators charged the complex and eventually made their way onto the Senate floor, plunging Washington into crisis and halting the congressional count of Electoral College votes to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. The president fomented thousands of supporters in a speech by the White House before they marched to the Capitol, vowing to “never concede” the election.
Both the House and Senate had recessed abruptly when it became clear that the rioters had breached the Capitol, and Vice President Mike Pence, who was in the Senate, was quickly whisked away. As the intruders made their way inside the complex, senators and members of the press were evacuated from the Senate chamber, and armed officers inside the House chamber aimed firearms at those attempting to breach the barricaded doors. Lawmakers remained in hiding for hours as hundreds of law enforcement officers worked to clear the building and control the crisis.
One woman was shot inside the complex and later succumbed to her injuries, police said. Three others died as a result of medical emergencies, Metro D.C. police said.
The incredible scene unfolded after lawmakers gathered in a joint session to count the Electoral College votes and seal Biden’s victory in November’s election. Soon after the joint session began, GOP lawmakers objected to results from Arizona, a move that prompted each chamber to begin debating the objection separately.
If the rioters who breached the Capitol had hoped to pressure GOP lawmakers to join objections to the electoral results, they appeared to have succeeded in accomplishing exactly the opposite. As senators returned to debate whether to accept Arizona’s results Wednesday evening, multiple Republicans who had planned to join the objections said they would no longer do so, expressing disgust at the violence that had invaded the halls of Congress.
The Senate voted overwhelmingly to accept Arizona’s results, voting 6-93 against the objection. All six senators who voted to sustain the objection were Republicans.