Vice President Mike Pence, R-Ind., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., preside over the Electoral College votes for certification after working through the night at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday. Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 6 (UPI) -- The House and Senate on Wednesday night voted to strike down an objection raised against Arizona's electoral votes after the process of confirming the result of the 2020 presidential election was delayed for several hours due to a siege on the Capitol building by supporters of President Donald Trump.
Senators voted 93-6 and the House voted 303-122 to reject the objection brought by Rep. Paul Gosar of Wyoming, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and other Republicans challenging Arizona's electors and prompting Congress to retire to their respective chambers for debate.
Cruz and his fellow Republican Sens. Josh Hawley, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Roger Marshall, John Kennedy and Tommy Tuberville voted to sustain the objection.
However, after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, with some making their way to the Senate floor as members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence were evacuated, several Republicans said they would no longer object to the election results.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.; Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont.; and James Lankford, R-Okla., said they will vote to certify the election.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., said she would no longer object to the election results in Georgia.
Hawley, one of the first to declare he would reject the election results, said he will follow through with his objection to Pennsylvania's electoral votes.
Any objections to each subsequent state's electoral votes would require another round of debates in each chamber.
The session resumed on Wednesday night with Pence condemning the siege that saw rioters enter the Capitol building and the chambers of Congress, prompting a lockdown and delaying the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's win for several hours.
"We condemn the violence that took place here in the strongest possible terms. We grieve the loss of life in these hallowed halls as well as the injuries suffered by those who defended our Capitol today. And we will always be grateful to the men and women who stayed at their posts to defend this historic place," he said.
"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."
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., condemned the crowd as "unhinged" saying their actions would not deter Congress from fulfilling its duties.
"They tried to disrupt our democracy, they failed. They failed to attempt to obstruct a Congress. This failed insurrection only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our republic," he said.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., addressed Americans who may be "worried about the future of this country" following the images from the Capitol.
"The divisions in our country clearly run deep but we are a resilient, forward-looking and optimistic people and we will begin the hard work of repairing this nation tonight, because here in America we do hard things. In America we always overcome our challenges," he said.
Sen. Jeff Merkley tweeted a photo of the Electoral College ballots, saying they had been safely removed from the Senate floor.
"If our capable floor staff hadn't grabbed them, they would have been burned by the mob," he wrote.
Earlier in the day, McConnell argued against overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election.
"The Constitution gives us here in Congress a limited role. We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids. Voters, courts, states have all spoken. They've all spoken. If we overrule them it would damage our republic forever," he said.
Then the protesters arrived and the building went into lockdown. Congress called a recess and Pence was evacuated.
The plan had been to complete the 2-hour debate on Arizona's votes, then regroup and continue the process in which Pence will hand sealed certificates of states' certified results from a wooden box to tellers appointed from Congress to read.
Pence earlier said he wouldn't try to upend the electoral vote count to certify Biden's victory.
Pence made his position known in a letter to lawmakers in response to President Donald Trump's false assertions on Tuesday that his deputy has the power to "reject fraudulently chosen electors."
"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 wrote in the letter. "My role as presiding officer is largely ceremonial."
Trump slammed Pence's letter on Twitter.
"Mike Pence didn't have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!" he wrote.
The joint session of Congress to certify the votes is also typically ceremonial, but, taking their cue from Trump, some Republican lawmakers held up the process with objections.
On Dec. 14, electors from all 50 states and Washington, D.C., cast their votes as determined by November's general election, giving Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris 306 electoral votes and Trump and Pence 232.
Supporters of President Donald Trump riot against the Electoral College vote count on January 6, 2021, in protest of Trump's loss to President-elect Joe Biden, prompting a lockdown of the Capitol Building. Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo