Washington — Lawmakers returned to the Capitol late Wednesday 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 was debating an objection to Arizona’s election results when the rioters stormed the Capitol. When they returned nearly six hours later, the debate continued but the Senate ultimately voted 93-6 to reject it. The House voted 303-121 to reject the objection.
Many of the planned objections were withdrew, including Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler’s planned objection to Georgia’s results. No senators signed onto House objections to results Michigan and Nevada, so those went nowhere. But Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri signed onto Pennsylvania’s objection, leading to a 92-7 vote to reject it. The House took up the debate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had vowed to resume the interrupted proceedings Wednesday evening after the Capitol breach. 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.