Congress resumed certification of Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election on Wednesday night, after pro-Trump rioters were expelled from the Capitol following hours of chaos and violence.
The Senate turned aside an objection to the Arizona vote, which cast its 11 electoral votes for Biden. The Senate voted 93-6 to deny the objection, while the House continued to debate the issue. They were expected to return to a joint session to resume the vote count once the House voted.
The House and Senate were considering the objection in separate sessions when the rioters interrupted the proceedings earlier in the afternoon. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi restarted the House, saying that violence showed the “weakness” of the rioters’ position.
Vice President Mike Pence gaveled the Senate back into session, calling it a “dark day.” The senators assumed a somber tone, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling the violent outbreak a “failed insurrection.”
“This temple to democracy was desecrated,” said Charles Schumer, the Democratic leader, who said it would be a “the final, terrible, indelible legacy” of President Trump.
The Congress had convened at 1 p.m. in joint session to certify the result of the Electoral College. Earlier in the day, Trump held a rally at which he continued to foment unrest over the election, which he has claimed was “rigged” against him. He encouraged demonstrators to march on the Capitol. The demonstrators overwhelmed the Capitol Police, overran barricades, and smashed windows to gain entry to the building.
A woman was shot and killed in the halls of the Capitol during the ensuing chaos. The lawmakers were forced to seek cover and evacuate.
The president has been joined in objecting to the outcome by more than a dozen senators, who have echoed his claims about voting procedures in several states Biden won. After the riot, however, several senators withdrew their objections.
“I cannot now in good conscience object to the certification of these electors,” said Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was defeated in a runoff election on Tuesday. “Upholding democracy is the only path to preserving our republic.”
Sen. James Lankford, who had been speaking on his objection to Arizona’s vote tally when the session was interrupted, also signaled that the outcome was clear, saying that Biden would be certified as the winner.
Sen. Mitt Romney called on his colleagues to drop their objections and unanimously affirm the outcome of the presidential election.
“What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States,” Romney said.
Sen. Josh Hawley, who has led the resistance to the certification, said he would continue to pursue his objections.
“This is the appropriate place for these concerns to be raised,” he said. He added that “violence is never warranted.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has been closely aligned with Trump in recent years, said he could not support the effort to overturn the result.
“Enough’s enough,” Graham said. “We gotta end it… Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will become the president and vice president of the United States on Jan. 20.”