Congress returned to session Wednesday night, resuming Electoral College proceedings where they left off Wednesday afternoon when rioters stormed the United States Capitol, forcing legislators to evacuate.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was adamant that the rioters, who stormed the barricades outside the U.S. Capitol building, making it all the way inside before being turned back by Capitol Police and armed federal agents, would not stall the Electoral College certification process. She told the media Wednesday afternoon that Congress would go back into session and vote on the Electoral College result as soon as the police deemed it safe.
“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Congress will resume the Electoral College proceedings once the Capitol is cleared of protesters and safe for use,” according to The Associated Press. “Pelosi said she made the decision Wednesday in consultation with the Pentagon, the Justice Department, and the vice president, who will preside.”
“She noted the day would always be ‘part of history,'” the outlet reported. “But now it would be ‘as such a shameful picture of our country was put out into the world.'”
In a letter to fellow lawmakers, released later, Pelosi said, “We always knew this responsibility would take us into the night.”
Vice President Mike Pence personally gaveled Congress back into session, calling earlier events part of a “dark day in the history of the United States Capitol.”
“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win,” Pence said. “Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house.”
Pence began the day refuting the White House’s request to challenge electors from several states where, the Trump campaign claims, official vote counts are tainted by widespread vote fraud. As the day wore on, Pence reportedly took the lead in managing the federal government’s response to the riot on Capitol Hill, working with Congressional leaders to deploy the National Guard where needed.
‘The sergeant-at-arms, the top security official at the Capitol, announced that the building had been secured around 5:40 p.m,” The New York Times reported. Washington, D.C., officials declared “a citywide curfew from 6 p.m. Wednesday night to 6 a.m. Thursday morning. The Army activated the District of Columbia National Guard — 1,100 troops — in response to a request from the mayor, an Army official said.”
Congress reconvened around 8 pm Wednesday night.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) opened the session with his own remarks.
“The United States and the United States Congress have faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today. We have never been deterred before, and we will be not deterred today,” he said. “They try to disrupt our democracy, they failed. They failed. They failed to attempt to obstruct Congress. This failed insurrection only underscores how crucial the task before us is, for our republic.”
McConnell would not say whether a dozen Republicans, who had planned to register official objections to the Electoral College vote count, were still considering their challenges. He also did not say whether those ballot challenges would be expedited.
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