Vice President Pence earlier said that he would not block congressional certification of Biden’s victory, despite Trump’s requests
The Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly rejected objections to the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Arizona, meaning that the outcome of that state’s election will stand.
The objection, raised by Congressman Paul Gosar and Senator Ted Cruz, was supported only by Republicans.
But after violent protesters stormed the Capitol earlier Wednesday, several Republican senators who had also planned to support the objection changed their position.
The Republican objection was based on allegations of election fraud promoted by President Donald Trump and his allies, which have been repeatedly rejected in Arizona courts and by state election officials.
In a rare speech from the presidency, Vice President Mike Pence, who earlier in the day rejected President Trump’s demands to intervene in the vote count, said, “Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the House of the People.”
Members of the House and Senate must approve the results of the Electoral College, which upheld Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election last Nov. 3.
On Wednesday afternoon, congressmen were forced to adjourn the session after hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, demanding that the election results, which resulted in the defeat of the incumbent president by his Democratic rival, be overturned.
Police evacuated lawmakers and for more than three hours ejected Trump supporters who stormed into congressional chambers and rioted inside the Capitol.
One woman, an alleged pro-Trump marcher, died as a result of the shooting and her injuries, according to Washington police.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that its agents also defused two suspected explosive devices.
Police were able to restore order to the Capitol building around 5:30 p.m. U.S. East Coast time. Lawmakers reconvened for the continuation of the session at about 8 p.m.
“Those who wreaked havoc at the Capitol today lost,” Vice President Mike Pence said as he opened the previously adjourned session, “Let’s get back to work. The vice president’s remarks drew a standing ovation among lawmakers.
“We will determine the winner of the 2020 election,” added Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, calling the riots by Trump supporters a “failed insurrection.”
During the session, lawmakers are expected to discuss an attempt by some pro-Trump congressmen to challenge election results in several states. Observers, however, say the attempt is unlikely to succeed.
Law enforcement used tear gas against demonstrators who stormed the Capitol, a world-famous symbol of American democracy. They called in reinforcements to deal with the demonstrators who had entered the building and to keep out the thousands of people who were on the street.
Legislators in the House of Representatives were handed gas masks to protect them from the irritating tear gas. Plainclothes policemen pointed guns at one blocked glazed door into the House chamber to keep demonstrators out.
The clashes came about two hours after Pence sent a letter to lawmakers saying he would not try to block Biden’s congressional victory certification, even though Trump, Pence’s boss, had repeatedly asked him to stop Biden on his way to the White House.
Shocking TV reports showed crowds of demonstrators huddled outside the white-columned building. Hundreds more overcame Capitol Police resistance and entered the building. Some reportedly tried to break down the doors of the House of Representatives, where lawmakers were discussing the results of the Electoral College vote.
Fox News television showed pictures of plainclothes security officers with guns pointed at protesters inside the building.
Speaking from the center of his transition team in Delaware, Biden said: “In this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented attack.”
The president-elect called on Trump to appear on national television and do his duty as commander-in-chief to get the crowds to disperse.
As the chaos inside and around the Capitol escalated, Trump released a video urging demonstrators to stay within the bounds of peaceful action and respect the police.
“No violence! – Trump declared. – Remember, we are the party of law and order. Respect the law and our wonderful men and women in blue uniforms.” Thank you!”.