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Politics LIVE COVERAGE: Both chambers object to Pennsylvania in electoral vote count

08:30  07 january  2021
08:30  07 january  2021 Source:   thehill.com

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Congress convened on Wednesday at 1 p.m. for a joint session to record the Electoral College votes from November's presidential election.

a person wearing a suit and tie: LIVE COVERAGE: Both chambers object to Pennsylvania in electoral vote count © Greg Nash LIVE COVERAGE: Both chambers object to Pennsylvania in electoral vote count

The proceedings were abruptly postponed after 2 p.m. when protesters entered the Capitol to protest President-elect Joe Biden's win but resumed hours later after the building was cleared.

Follow our live coverage of the Capitol protests here.

Below is coverage of the electoral count:

Perry blames mail-in ballot deadline

12:45 a.m.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) kicked off the debate, arguing that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court circumvented the legislature in allowing mail-in ballots to be counted at a later date.

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"In Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court unilaterally extended the deadline for ballots to three days after the election - actually wanted 10. The Supreme Court is not the legislature,'' he said. "The Supreme Court action defied the law"

Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) rebutted, arguing that rejecting the results is undemocratic.

"The scenes of mayhem unfolding at the seat of our nation's government are a sickening and heartbreaking site - sight," he said.

"This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic. Not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions our traditions and our law enforcement," Neguse said.

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-Juliegrace Brufke

Debate begins on Pennsylvania

12:18 a.m.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) offered the House objection to the election results to Pennsylvania.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) objected in the Senate, leading to debate in both chambers, potentially the last of the night.

Hawley had made clear his plans to object to the Keystone State results after lawmakers reconvened following the afternoon's riots.

"Senator Hawley spoke during the debate on the Arizona objection, but he will object to Pennsylvania once Congress returns to the joint session, and when the Senate and House go back to their chambers for the debate on Pennsylvania, he will yield his speaking time to move toward a vote," said Kelli Ford, a spokesperson for Hawley.

Even if Hawley yields his time, other senators will potentially still be able to fill the two hours designated for the debate. The House would also have its own two-hour debate.

What to expect when Congress meets to count Electoral College votes and Republicans object

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-Juliegrace Brufke

House rejects Arizona challenge

11:17 p.m.

The House rejected a Republican challenge to the electoral votes from Arizona, a state won by President-elect Joe Biden.

The objection failed in a 303-121 vote, with all votes in favor coming from Republicans.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) both voted in favor of the objection. Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the No. 3 Republican in the House, voted against it.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) offered the objection. The Senate also rejected the challenge, in a 93-6 vote.

- Juliegrace Brufke

Gaetz booed as he suggests some who breached Capitol were 'masquerading as Trump supporters'

10:45 p.m.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) used his speaking time on the House floor to needle Democrats over previous calls to "defund the police" and claim, without providing proof, that some members of the mob that breached the Capitol on Wednesday were members of antifa "masquerading as Trump supporters."

It's a conspiracy theory that had already been floated a few times throughout the day and his comments were met by boos from Democratic lawmakers.

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The Florida Republican said "some pretty compelling evidence from a facial recognition company" showed some of the rioters were not Trump supporters.

He then referred to a slogan born from unrest over police violence over the summer that called on law enforcement reforms after police worked the secure the Capitol and get lawmakers and staff to safety.

"I am sure glad that at least for one day, I didn't hear my Democratic colleagues calling to defund the police," Gaetz said, which was followed by applause from the Republican side of the aisle.

- Juliegrace Brufke

Senate rejects Arizona challenge in bipartisan vote

10:15 p.m.

The Senate on a bipartisan basis rejected a GOP challenge to President-elect Joe Biden's win in Arizona, after rioters stormed the Capitol.

Senators voted 93-6 on the objection, falling well short of the simple majority needed for the chamber to throw its support behind throwing out Arizona's Electoral College vote.

The Senate's debate on the objection, which was offered by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), was initially interrupted on Wednesday as senators were forced to shelter in place in the Senate chamber before being escorted to another secure location on the Capitol complex.

GOP Sens. Cruz, Josh Hawley (Mo.), Tommy Tuberville (Ala.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) and John Kennedy (La.) supported it.

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- Jordain Carney

Hawley to still object to Pennsylvania

10:08 p.m.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) is going forward with his plan to object to Pennsylvania's Electoral College results, even as many of the 14 GOP senators who had supported challenging the election results are backing down.

Hawley's plan guarantees that the Senate will have to vote on objections to at least two states, with the chamber currently debating a separate objection to Arizona's results.

"Senator Hawley spoke during the debate on the Arizona objection, but he will object to Pennsylvania once Congress returns to the joint session, and when the Senate and House go back to their chambers for the debate on Pennsylvania, he will yield his speaking time to move toward a vote," said Kelli Ford, a spokesperson for Hawley.

Even if Hawley yields his time, other senators will still be able to fill the two hours designated for the debate. The House would also have its own two-hour debate.

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Republicans had hoped that they had convinced their colleagues to drop their objections to Georgia and Pennsylvania after the proceedings were suspended for hours after rioters stormed the Capitol and breached both the House and Senate chambers.

Hawley was one of at least 14 GOP senators who had planned to support efforts to overturn the election results in key states.

But several of those senators have dropped their plans after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday.

Read more here.

Stefanik moves forward with objection

9:56 p.m.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) moved forward with objecting to the results, speaking out against the violence but stating she feels the results need to be investigated.

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She was followed by Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), one of the few House Freedom Caucus members to initially come out against objecting to the election results, who slammed the notion of allowing Congress, not the states, to determine the legitimacy of the election.

"I hope they will reconsider. I was not going to and I will not be voting to reject the elections and it may sign my political death warrant," he said. "I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and I will not bend it for political expediency."

His comments were met with applause from the Democratic side of the chamber.

- Juliegrace Brufke

Romney: Storming of Capitol 'an insurrection incited by' Trump

9:45 p.m.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) offered blistering criticism of President Trump after rioters stormed the Capitol, saying it was "an insurrection incited by" the president.

"We gather due to a selfish man's injured pride, and the outrage of supporters who he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning. What happened today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States," Romney said from the Senate floor.

"Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legislative Democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy," Romney said.

He added that Republicans who support continuing to challenge Biden's election win "will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy."

- Jordain Carney

McCarthy, who backed Electoral College challenges, condemns mob

9:35 p.m.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who backed making challenges to the Electoral College in battleground states unlike his Senate GOP counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), condemned the mob violence at the Capitol.

McCarthy called the actions of rioters "un-American."

"No one wins when this building and what it stands for are destroyed. America is better than that," he said.

McCarthy's praise of law enforcement was met with a standing ovation from within the chamber, and his praise for lawmakers from both parties who helped ensure the floor was not breached was also met with applause.

- Juliegrace Brufke

Hoyer recounts 2000 election

9:20 p.m.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) recalled the 2000 election, describing the peaceful transition of power after the Gore-Bush election as a proud moment in his career.

- Juliegrace Brufke

House reconvenes; Pelosi says 'it is time to move on'

9:13 p.m.

The House reconvened at 9 p.m. to resume its debate on the Electoral College.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) condemned the violence that took place earlier in the day, stating that "it is time to move on." She then proceeded to say the prayer of St. Francis ahead of the proceedings taking place.

- Juliegrace Brufke

Loeffler drops plan to challenge Electoral College vote

8:53 p.m.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) said on Wednesday that she is dropping her plan to object to the Electoral College results from Georgia in the wake of rioters breaking into the Capitol.

Loeffler, speaking from the Senate floor, said she could not "in good conscious" move forward with her plan to object to the votes from her state after Wednesday's violence, which saw rioters take over both the House and Senate chambers.

"The events that transpired have forced me to reconsider and I cannot now in good conscience object to certification of these electors. The violence, the lawlessness and siege of the halls of Congress are abhorrent and stand as a direct attack on what my objection was intended to protect, the sanctity of the American democratic process," Loeffler said from the Senate floor.

- Jordain Carney

Schumer: Jan. 6 'will live forever in infamy'

8:42 p.m.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) predicted that Jan. 6, 2021, will "live forever in infamy" after rioters stormed the Capitol and temporarily suspended the counting of the Electoral College vote.

Schumer, speaking minutes after senators returned to the chamber floor, pointed the blame, in part, at President Trump who encouraged his supporters to swarm Washington and claimed for weeks that the election was "rigged" - despite losing dozens of court cases and his claims being dismissed by election experts.

"This temple to democracy was desecrated. Its windows smashed. Our offices were vandalized," Schumer said. "This will be a stain on our country not so easily washed away. The final, terrible legacy of the 45th president of the United States, undoubtedly our worst."

Schumer added that he hoped the rioters would be prosecuted, either under the current administration or the incoming Biden administration.

"The president, who promoted conspiracy theories that motivated these thugs, the president, who exhorted them to come to our nation's capital, egged them on, he hardly ever discourages violence and more often encourages it, this president bears a great deal of the blame," Schumer said.

"Now, Jan. 6 will go down as one of the darkest days in recent America," Schumer added.

- Jordain Carney

McConnell: 'They tried to disrupt our democracy, they failed'

8:24 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed that Congress would finish certifying President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College win on Wednesday, after the tallying was suspended for hours when rioters stormed the Capitol.

McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor shortly after 8 p.m., pledged that the Senate would not be "intimidated" or kept out of the Senate chamber "by thugs, mobs or threats."

"We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation. We are back at our posts. We will discharge our duty by the Constitution and for our nation. And we're going to do it tonight," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

McConnell, referring to the rioters as "unhinged thugs," added that "we will not be deterred today."

"They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed. They failed to obstruct this Congress. This failed insurrection only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our republic," McConnell said.

"We'll follow our precedents, our laws, and our Constitution to the letter. And we will certify the winner of the presidential election," he added.

- Jordain Carney

Pence on Capitol rioters: 'Violence never wins'

8:30 p.m.

Vice President Pence late Wednesday evening denounced the violence at the U.S. Capitol in remarks on the Senate floor as lawmakers reconvened to resume the counting of Electoral College votes.

"To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people's house," Pence said.

"As we reconvene in this chamber, the world will again witness the resilience and strength of our democracy, for even in the wake of unprecedented violence and vandalism at this Capitol, the elected representatives of the people of the United States have assembled again on the very same day to support and defend the Constitution of the United States," Pence continued.

Pence struck a decidedly different tone than President Trump, who responded to the violence in a video message posted to Twitter in which he urged his supporters to "go home in peace" while repeating his baseless claims that the presidential election was fraudulent.

- Brett Samuels

GOP senators hopeful they've quashed additional election challenges

7:50 p.m.

Republican senators are hopeful that they've convinced their colleagues to drop their plan to challenge additional Electoral College results from Georgia and Pennsylvania.

The Senate will reconvene on Wednesday evening to finish debating a challenge to Arizona's Electoral College results, which was interrupted when rioters stormed the Capitol and senators were moved to a secure location.

"There's gonna be probably 30 or 40 more minutes of debate, and one vote," said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) "I just don't think there's going to be another objection. I think it's over at that point."

Paul said they expect that the Senate will vote on the objection to Arizona's Electoral College votes but didn't expect Republican senators to object to the results from Georgia or Pennsylvania as previously planned.

Read more here.

Lawmakers say work certifying Biden win to continue tonight

6 p.m.

Despite the extraordinary violence and chaos that struck the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, lawmakers in both parties and both chambers said Congress will continue the work of certifying Joe Biden's presidential victory later in the evening.

"I have faced violent hatred before," House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said in a tweet. "I was not deterred then, and I will not be deterred now. Tonight, Congress will continue the business of certifying the electoral college votes."

In the upper chamber, Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is also telling senators to expect the process to continue Wednesday night.

Read more here.

Raskin gets a standing ovation from both parties as he takes the floor

2:18 p.m.

House lawmakers in both parties stood and delivered a rousing ovation as Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), whose son died last week, took the chamber floor on behalf of Democrats to debate Arizona's election results.

Tommy Raskin, 25, was a student at Harvard Law School when he took his own life on New Year's Eve. In a devastating statement issued this week, Jamie Raskin and his wife Sarah Bloom Raskin remembered a son with "a perfect heart ... and a dazzling radiant mind."

"He began to be tortured later in his 20s by a blindingly painful and merciless 'disease called depression,'" they added.

In response to the applause, Raskin on Wednesday repeatedly put his hand to his heart.

The back-and-forth gestures marked a rare moment of comity on a day when the parties are battling in both chambers over the presidential election results.

- Mike Lillis

McConnell rebukes effort to overturn election results

1:57 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) warned against supporting efforts to challenge the Electoral College results, the first time he's spoken publicly against the Trump-endorsed plan by members of his caucus to throw out President-elect Joe Biden's win.

McConnell's remarks came at the start of the Senate's first debate as part of what is expected to be an hours-long effort that will ultimately end in Congress affirming Biden's win.

McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, said the allegations of fraud didn't reach the standard for challenging the election results and warned of dramatic consequences if conservatives are successful.

"If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side our democracy would enter a death spiral. We'd never see the whole nation accept the election again," McConnell said.

- Jordain Carney

Pelosi implores Republicans to observe social distancing guidelines

1:43 p.m.

Numerous lawmakers were not complying with social distancing guidelines during Wednesday's joint session, with some Republicans greeting each other with hugs and others wearing masks that were slipping under their noses.

Dozens of GOP lawmakers were on the floor in support of challenging the results in key states, prompting Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to implore them to adhere to an agreement between leadership of the two parties that allows only 11 members on the floor at a time during the joint session.

Pelosi urged Republicans to "please observe the social distancing" and "please exit the floor if you do not have an assigned role from your leadership."

Vice President Pence, who was presiding over the session, was not wearing a mask while speaking. Members and staff are required to keep masks on at all times on the floor, including while they are recognized to speak.

- Cristina Marcos

Scalise begins House debate

1:37 p.m.

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (La.) became the first member of GOP leadership to debate the Electoral College vote on the floor.

"I rise today to object to a number of states that did not follow the constitutional requirement for selecting electors. Madam Speaker, this is something that is clear that our founding fathers debated about as a fundamental decision of how we choose our president," he said.

Scalise was met with a round of applause from his GOP colleagues following his remarks.

Following Scalise's remarks, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) rebutted stating that "this day marks a crossroads for American democracy. Those who object to the counting of the Electoral College votes which reflect the votes of the American people want to substitute their preferences for the voters' choice."

- Juliegrace Brufke

GOP lawmakers object to Arizona vote tally

1:16 p.m.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) objected to recording his home state's Electoral College tally, triggering a debate and votes in the House and Senate.

After there were no objections to the tallies in Alabama and Alaska, both won by Trump, Gosar rose to object to the tally in Arizona, where President-elect Joe Biden won in a tight vote.

Vice President Pence, who is presiding over the joint session, asked Gosar if his objection was in writing and joined by a senator, a requirement to trigger the debate and vote.

Gosar said it was and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) chimed in with his objection.

Republicans supportive of the move then stood to applaud Gosar.

- Ian Swanson

Electoral College votes arrive on House floor

1:10 p.m.

Vice President Pence and the senators have escorted across the Capitol the Electoral College votes certified by the states. The votes were transported in three ceremonial boxes.

Pence did not answer questions as he walked by.

- Scott Wong

Pence says he doesn't have 'unilateral authority' to reject electoral votes

1:02 p.m.

Vice President Pence, in a letter to Congress on Wednesday, said he does not believe he has the "unilateral authority" to reject electoral votes, dealing a final blow to President Trump's push for Pence to overturn the election result.

The letter comes just before Pence is set to preside over a joint session of Congress, where lawmakers will affirm Joe Biden as the next president.

- Brett Samuels

GOP senator says there may only be votes on three objections

12:23 p.m.

GOP Sen. Kevin Cramer (N.D.) said senators received an email from Republican leadership saying that there would only be votes on objections to Electoral College results in three states during Wednesday's joint session.

Cramer's comments come as Congress is preparing for a long night that could stretch into Thursday morning as conservatives mount a long-shot effort to challenge President-elect Joe Biden's win. Those objections are guaranteed to fail because they need a majority in both chambers to be successful.

GOP senators have said they will support objections to three states: Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

But Cramer noted that he had also heard of a potential fourth objection and warned that if the challenges snowballed, the session could stretch late into the night or early tomorrow morning.

- Jordain Carney

Democrats hold somber phone call before floor fight on election

12:21 p.m.

There were some touching moments during this morning's Democratic whip team conference call.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) played music by music legend Ray Charles, a source on the call said, and there were some heartfelt words for and by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.). Raskin suddenly lost his 25-year-old son last week and will play a role in Wednesday's floor proceedings.

There were also ample reminders from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) about the gravity of the day and the need for Democrats to conduct themselves in a dignified manner, the source on the call said.

- Scott Wong

Bipartisan Problem Solvers recognize Biden as president

11:46 a.m.

The bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus - comprised of 25 House Democrats and 25 Republicans - has endorsed a "peaceful transition of power" and is recognizing Joe Biden as the next president of the United States.

The new statement of principles was released just hours before a floor fight begins over the certification of the Electoral College votes that will hand Biden the White House on Jan. 20.

More than 75 percent of Problem Solvers needed to vote in favor of the statement in order for it to be publicized. The statement reads:

1. We are committed to combating attempts to undermine the will of the American people as expressed through the legitimate results of a democratic election.

2. We are united in our commitment to prevent fraud by protecting the integrity and security of elections in America.

3. As the greatest democracy in the world, the United States prides itself in its adherence to the peaceful transition of power as a core pillar of a functioning, fair political system.

4. Congress must begin its work on January 20 with the Biden Administration, and work in a bipartisan fashion to restore the public's confidence in our governing institutions.

- Scott Wong

Rep. Cole says Republican focus on election results has been a 'distraction' that hurt GOP in Georgia

11:21 a.m.

Heading into a meeting of top House Republicans in the Capitol, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) suggested the party's national focus on the presidential outcome had been a "distraction" that hurt the GOP candidates in the Georgia special elections on Tuesday.

"[It's] obviously a disappointing setback if you're a Republican, to say the least. I think it shows maybe we've been too distracted with other things. We should have been more focused on Georgia with a clearer message nationally," Cole said.

"That's not a criticism of the candidates or the campaign people," he added. "I think they had much more of a laser focus than we did. And I think it helped [the Democrats]."

On the eve of the Georgia runoffs, Trump had visited the Peach State to stump for GOP Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. But the president had also sent mixed messages to Georgia voters, suggesting the elections were rigged and discouraging participation in mail-in balloting.

Cole said Trump had helped the GOP candidates by energizing the party's base. But he also suggested the president had hurt them by focusing on his own election outcome.

"It's a two-edged sword. Frankly, he did a lot of good things. There's no question the Republican turnout wouldn't have been nearly as good without the president going down there," Cole said. "But again, you wish there'd have been fewer distractions and more focus on Georgia and what was at stake."

-Mike Lillis

Jordan says it's unclear how many state totals to be challenged

10:23 a.m.

Roaming the halls of the Capitol Wednesday morning, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a staunch ally of President Trump, said it remains unclear exactly how many state vote counts Republicans will challenge formally. House Republicans are expected to object to six, but Senate Republicans have so far committed to endorsing only three of those.

Jordan says he's hoping the other three also find champions in the upper chamber.

"I'm expecting at least three, but I'm hoping for six," Jordan said.

- Mike Lillis

Congress set for joint session on Electoral College results

10 a.m.

The House and Senate will meet in a joint session of Congress at 1 p.m. Wednesday, where GOP lawmakers are expected to mount several challenges to the Electoral College counts in several states.

One senator and one House member must back a challenge to trigger a two-hour debate and vote by both chambers on the issue.

It is expected that there will be challenges of the Electoral College votes in Arizona, Pennsylvania and Georgia. It's also possible there will be challenges of Nevada, Michigan and Wisconsin votes.

All of these states were won by President-elect Joe Biden. President Trump has backed the challenges while making unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud, which have repeatedly been rejected by state officials and courts across the country.

Vice President Pence will preside over the joint session and at the end of it, will have the task of announcing Biden's election. Trump has been seeking to pressure him to overturn results, but Pence does not have the power to do so under the Constitution and has a largely ceremonial role in the session.

The joint session will take place amid demonstrations by Trump supporters, who began gathering outside the Capitol early Wednesday.

- Ian Swanson

Capitol riot live updates: More arrests, violence across US as Pope Francis condemns 'this movement' .
An organization that tracks online activity of white supremacists says many Americans don’t understand how openly the Capitol riot was planned.House Democrats could introduce an article of impeachment against President Donald Trump as soon as Monday alleging "incitement of insurrection" for his role in encouraging a "wild" rally that morphed into a deadly riot. Some Republicans also have expressed support for Trump's removal from office.

usr: 4
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