Congress Electoral College

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., officiates as a joint session of the House and Senate convenes to confirm the Electoral College votes cast in November's election, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.

(The Center Square) – Vice President Mike Pence presided over the resumption of proceedings in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday evening, several hours after the violent incursion by protesters supporting President Donald Trump.

The House of Representatives and the Senate were meeting separately Wednesday afternoon to consider a challenge to Arizona’s electoral vote results when they were forced out of their respective chambers as protesters stormed the building.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told journalists Wednesday evening that his understanding is that there would be no further objections to the election results in the wake of the afternoon's violence.

By about 5 p.m. EST, the Capitol building reportedly had been cleared of those who had forced their way in. About 90 minutes later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced lawmakers would reconvene to confirm the results of the Electoral College and declare President-elect Joe Biden to be the next president.

“[A]fter calls to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Vice President, we have decided we should proceed tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Pelosi, a California Democrat, noted legislators already had prepared to work late into the night to accommodate the anticipated challenges to the slates of electors for six states. If a representative and a senator each sign on to challenge a given state’s results, the two chambers are obliged to exit the joint session called to ratify the results and go to their respective chambers for up to two hours of debate.

Only if both chambers agree to uphold a challenge would the electors for a state be thrown out, an unlikely prospect with Democrats controlling the House and eager to see their party’s nominee inaugurated Jan. 20.

If Paul's prediction that the expected challenges would not come to pass in the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol comes true, lawmakers should be able to move through recording the remaining electoral votes without much in the way of drama or spectacle. 

Pelosi blamed Trump for the violence at the Capitol, saying it was “anointed at the highest level of government.”

“We now will be part of history, as such a shameful picture of our country was put out to the world, instigated at the highest level,” she said.

Regional Editor

Delphine Luneau is a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience. She was the editor of Suburban Life Media when its flagship was named best weekly in Illinois, and she has worked at papers in South Carolina, Indiana, Idaho and New York.