Congress looks to resume confirmation of Biden victory 2nite Jan 7, 2021 9:35:57 GMT 10
Post by Wayne Smith on Jan 7, 2021 9:35:57 GMT 10
Congress looks to resume confirmation of Biden victory after protesters storm Capitol building in Washington
A joint session of Congress remains on recess Wednesday evening after protesters broke into the Capitol building during a joint session meant to officially confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November presidential election, though many members say the proceedings will resume some time Wednesday night.
The building was first penetrated around 2 p.m. Eastern Time and it was shortly before 6 p.m. that the House Sergeant at Arms told reporters that the Capitol was cleared. Capitol police engaged in an armed standoff with protesters who had made their way to the entrance of the House chamber, according to multiple reports from inside the building.
Rep. Steve Scalise, Republican Whip of Louisiana told Fox News early Wednesday evening that he is “confident” that the proceedings will be able to resume tonight. “We were talking about getting things back going tonight and doing our job.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginian Democrat, concurred, telling reporters that “we’re going to finish tonight” and that “these thugs are not running us off.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley, Democrat of Oregon said on Twitter that the Electoral College ballots that Congress was reviewing may have been in danger of destruction, “if our capable floor staff hadn’t grabbed them.”
Earlier Wednesday afternoon, President Donald Trump continued to insist without evidence that his loss was the result of widespread election fraud. “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved,” Trump said. “Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy.”
The president later told his supporters in a video message on Twitter that “you have to go home now. We have to have peace,” while continuing to claim that “we had an election that was stolen from us.”
Shortly before Congress was forced to recess, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell forcefully argued that it was Congress’ duty to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory Wednesday afternoon, despite the formal objections of dozens of congressional Republicans and protests in support of President Trump that later turned violent.
“We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said. “The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken. They’ve all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our Republic forever.”
“This election, actually, was not unusually close,” he added. “The Electoral College margin is almost identical to what it was in 2016…If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral.”
Every presidential election cycle, a joint session of Congress is convened to certify the results of the race in each individual state. Typically a formality, the proceedings took on more drama this year as Republicans planned to object to the results of races in several battleground states that voted for Biden.
Rep. Paul Gosar, an Arizona Republican, objected in writing to Arizona’s results, along with 60 of his colleagues, and Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz supported the move. Federal law states that if both a House member and a senator object to a slate of state electors, the joint session will recess and both the Senate and House of Representatives will debate the question for a maximum of two hours.
Republicans argued that the electoral votes were invalid because state election officials and courts in many battleground states ordered modifications to election protocol to protect voters from the COVID-19 epidemic. Though many states that voted for President Trump also made such changes this year, the GOP only plans to object to electors from states that Biden won.
Both the House and the Senate were set to debate each contested states’ results for up to two hours, but were forced to put those sessions on pause after protesters stormed the Capitol. It is unclear when the sessions will resume.
Prior to the violent disruption of the proceedings, they were expected to go into the early hours of Thursday morning if Republicans forced two hours of debate for each of the half-dozen states that they seek to depict as in question.
After that time, each chamber will hold a vote by simple majority on whether to accept or reject the objection. Given that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and several other prominent Republicans in the Senate have urged their colleagues not to mount these challenges, it’s unlikely that even a Republican Senate would vote to accept such an objection.
With Democrats in control of the House of Representatives, it’s a still greater stretch to imagine that the body would vote to reject any state’s slate of Biden electors. According to federal law, for a state’s slate of electors to be rejected, both houses of Congress would have to agree to do so.
Speaking to supportive demonstrators outside the White House, President Donald Trump again claimed Wednesday that Pence has the power to unilaterally accept or reject presidential election results from any state he chooses, though that idea has been rejected by constitutional scholars and even, according to news reports, the vice president himself.
“All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify, and we become president,” Trump told his supporters.
This idea has been rejected by constitutional scholars and the vice president himself. “It is my considered judgement that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,” Pence said in a statement released shortly before the session.
Pence, however, did say that he supports efforts by Congressional Republicans to challenge electoral votes during the counting. At least 12 Republican senators and potentially upwards of 140 House Republicans will formally object in writing to the electoral results submitted by battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada, according to reports.
The Washington Post reported that Republican lawmakers are attempting to convince Trump loyalists to abandon these challenges in light of Wednesday’s violent protests.