WASHINGTON – In predawn hours Thursday, members of Congress ended a marathon session by confirming Democrat Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election. The U.S. House and Senate review of the Electoral College vote resumed mid-evening Wednesday after a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to block the certification of Biden’s victory.
Lawmakers were resolved to complete their constitutional duty despite frayed nerves, high tensions and the nation’s capital on alert.
Vice President Mike Pence reopened the Senate and directly addressed the demonstrators: “You did not win.” Hours later -- just before 4 a.m. -- presiding over the joint session, he announced the tally: 306-232.
Some Republicans who had vowed to object to the electors in some states won by Biden dropped their opposition in the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol that came shortly after Trump fired up thousands of supporters attending a “Save America March.”
When members of Congress reconvened hours after the building was cleared, they concluded debate on the objection to Arizona’s electors and voted to uphold that delegation. The only other challenge was to the Pennsylvania electors, but that was also debated and denied.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott was one of only eight in the nation who voted to sustain one or both objections. Florida’s senior senator, Marco Rubio, voted with the majority to accept the Electoral College vote and called on Trump to do more to help restore order.
“Mr. President @realDonaldTrump the men & women of law enforcement are under assault. It is crucial you help restore order by sending resources to assist the police and ask those doing this to stand down. There is nothing patriotic about what is occurring on Capitol Hill. This is 3rd world style anti-American anarchy,” Rubio tweeted.
Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was defeated the day before by Raphael Warnock in a runoff election, said on the Senate floor she had planned to vote in support of the objections, but the violence on the Capitol changed her mind.
“The events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider and I cannot now, in good conscience, object to the certification of these electors,” Loeffler said.
In the House, 12 Florida congressmen and six from Georgia voted to object to either the Arizona or Pennsylvania slate of Biden electors. On that list were Jacksonville U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, newly elected Rep. Kat Cammack, who represents Clay, Putnam and Alachua counties, and Rep. Buddy Carter, who lives on St. Simons Island and represents all of Coastal Georgia.
Rutherford and Cammack made it clear last week that they planned to object to the electoral college certification process despite the fact that the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could change the outcome of the 2020 election.
Wednesday evening, before the votes were taken, Rutherford -- the former sheriff of Jacksonville -- condemned the violent protestors, calling their actions a disgrace.
“The lawlessness taking place here in our nation’s capital is unacceptable and un-American,” Rutherford tweeted. “You cannot say you stand for law and order and then act this way. Pray for our law enforcement as they secure the area and keep us safe.”
Rutherford added later in the night that Trump didn’t condemn the violence strong enough a video he released.
“I think he could have been much more directive in his comments,” Rutherford said. “Less about the election, himself, and more about the safety of the people in our Capitol.”
Cammack also condemned the attack but proceeded with her plans to object to certifying slates of Biden electors.
Planned objections to results from Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Wisconsin fizzled and the joint House and Senate proceeded to certify the Electoral College.
“Violence has no place in our politics. This needs to stop now!” Cammack tweeted. “As we fight for our Constitutional Republic on the House floor, I am asking everyone to please remain peaceful and respect the Capitol police doing their job.”
Trump, who had repeatedly refused to concede the election, said in a statement released by an aide immediately after the vote that there will be a smooth transition of power on Inauguration Day.
“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in a statement posted to Twitter by an aide.