Sens. Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer on Wednesday night reconvened the very Electoral College certification process that triggered an assaul on the Capitol hours earlier.
But first, some strong words:
"The United States Senate will not be intimated," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said at 8 p.m. ET as lawmakers reassmbled in a Capitol where, minutes prior, broken glass and other debris had to be swept up. Still earlier, the lawmakers, hastily evacuated as demonstrators besieged the the iconic building, were escorted back inside by dozens upon dozens of armed law enforcement officers.
McConnell used the term "unhinged crowd" to describe the mob, comprising Americans who support President Donald Trump's contention that Joe Biden's victory in the Nov. 3 vote was the result of massive fraud and a rigged process. McConnell vowed that the "clockwork of democracy," uninterrupted in times of war and domestic upheaval, would continue on in spite of the earlier mob scene.
"Now we're going to finish exactly what we started."
Up next came Schumer, who is expected to be the next majority leader under a Biden administration, decried the desecration of "this temple to democracy."
"The world saw America's elected officials ushered out because they were in harm's way," Schumer said. He called the entire affair a stain on the nation's history, and on the legacy of the 45th president, Trump, whom many said incited the rallygoers to action in a rally earlier in the day that reemphasized his allegations of a stolen election.
A woman, shot in the chest during the siege, died, Schumer said. He expressed sympathy for her, her family and her friends.
But he also called for the business of the joint session to continue.
Republicans who'd been planning to challenge some of the electoral votes were under intense pressure after the siege to withdraw their challenges or consolidate them. It was unclear what course the session would now take. But Vice President Mike Pence said the business would go on in any case.
"Let's get back to work," he said as the reconvened session opened.
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