Congress Reconvenes After Rioters Breach U.S. Capitol
Members of Congress are reconvening on Wednesday evening to continue the process of certifying President-elect Joe Biden's White House win, hours after violent insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol, forcing party leadership to evacuate the scene while rioters overtook the complex.
Both chambers recessed shortly after 2 p.m. when far-right supporters of President Trump heeded his call to go to the Capitol and eventually breached the building. Lawmakers were at the time debating an objection to Arizona's election results when the complex was put on lockdown.
Lawmakers were intent on returning to finish the process Wednesday night.
Watch the live Senate session here as it returns:
And House session here:
Earlier, debate ended abruptly and Capitol Hill devolved into chaos as rioters — waving Trump, Confederate and Nazi flags — broke into offices and vandalized property. One person was shot and killed during the commotion.
The fracas interrupted debate in the joint session about whether to certify Biden's election win. The Democrat won overwhelmingly in the popular and electoral vote. But a number of Republicans had moved to object to the certification process. Several have since backed off their pledges to object.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a Wednesday evening letter to Congress she had consulted with fellow Democrats as well as the Pentagon, Justice Department and Vice President Pence, and that the two chambers would reconvene "tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use."
She wrote: "Today, a shameful assault was made on our democracy. It was anointed at the highest level of government. It cannot, however, deter us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden."
"To that end, in consultation with Leader Hoyer and Whip Clyburn and after calls to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Vice President, we have decided we should proceed tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use. Leader Hoyer will be sending out more guidance later today."
"We always knew this responsibility would take us into the night. The night may still be long but we are hopeful for a shorter agenda, but our purpose will be accomplished."
Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican, said that while he expected a brief debate to continue regarding Arizona's election results, he did not foresee any additional objections following the day's pandemonium.
He said he expected 30 or 40 minutes of debate and one vote. "That's my prediction," Paul said, "I just don't think there's going to be another objection, I think it's over at that point."
Paul had previously tweeted out that he opposed raising any challenges to the electoral votes.
Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a former top House GOP leader and top Republican on the Energy & Commerce committee, released a statement saying she will no longer object to the electoral college results.
"What happened today and continues to unfold in the nation's capital is disgraceful and un-American. Thugs assaulted Capitol Police Officers, breached and defaced our Capitol Building, put people's lives in danger, and disregarded the values we hold dear as Americans. To anyone involved, shame on you," said McMorris Rodgers.
"We must have a peaceful transfer of power. The only reason for my objection was to give voice to the concern that governors and courts unilaterally changed election procedures without the will of the people and outside of the legislative process. I have been consistent in my belief that Americans should utilize the Constitutional tools and legal processes available to seek answers to their questions about the 2020 election. What we have seen today is unlawful and unacceptable. I have decided I will vote to uphold the Electoral College results and I encourage Donald Trump to condemn and put an end to this madness." [Copyright 2021 NPR]