Lawmakers say work certifying Biden win to continue tonight

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. 

“We’re going to finish tonight. Everyone is committed to staying whatever it takes to get our job done,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) later confirmed the decision, describing what happened at the Capitol as “a shameful assault” on democracy, but one that could not “deter us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden.”

“To that end, in consultation with Leader Hoyer and Whip Clyburn and after 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,” she said.

She also said she was hoping for a shorter agenda, a nod toward the possibility that some GOP senators might not object to the Electoral College results in certain states. Each objection joined by a House lawmaker and senator triggers a two-hour debate. 

“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,” Pelosi said. 

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the minority whip, earlier had told Fox News that the process “needs to” continue immediately. “I’m confident we will,” he said.

The violent actions by rioters left many lawmakers shaken and shell-shocked, and there was early speculation that the process of affirming the Electoral College votes might be pushed until later in the week. 

Yet, there’s also an emerging sense among lawmakers that delaying the process, even for a day, would send the message that the mob had won. Resuming the votes Wednesday night, they argued, would send just the opposite message: that the nation’s democratic institutions remain strong even under direct attack.

It was that sentiment that ultimately won out.  

“In the face of violence, it’s even more important we get the count done,” said one Republican lawmaker.

Al Weaver contributed. 

Tags Capitol riot Electoral College Joe Biden Joe Manchin Kevin Cramer Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Steve Scalise

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