Several Republican senators will no longer raise objections to Electoral College votes on Wednesday, after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol building earlier in the day and disrupted a joint session of Congress that was moving to formally declare President-elect Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 election.
Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., James Lankford, R-Okla., and Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., all indicated that Congress would move forward with the certification of Biden’s victory.
“We will not let today’s violence deter Congress from certifying the election,” Daines said. “We must restore confidence in our electoral process. We must, and we will, have a peaceful and orderly transition of power.”
On the floor of the Senate, Lankford said he recognized the commission he and several colleagues had asked for to review the election process would no longer happen. He added that Congress was heading toward Biden’s certification as president.
Loeffler, who NBC News projected Wednesday would lose her election bid to Democrat Raphael Warnock, said she had intended to object earlier Wednesday but that “the events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider.”
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said in a statement Wednesday her plan to object was meant to to voice concerns over “changed election procedures without the will of the people.”
“What we have seen today is unlawful and unacceptable,” she said. “I have decided I will vote to uphold the Electoral College results and I encourage Donald Trump to condemn and put an end to this madness.”
Earlier in the day, the rioters interrupted the procedural meeting to count the electoral votes when they breached the Capitol building, sending lawmakers into hiding.
President Donald Trump has stoked his supporters with false claims that the election was stolen from him. Those claims were further fanned by more than a dozen GOP senators and dozens more Republican House members who had indicated they planned to object to certifying votes in key battleground states. Still, Biden’s victory was expected to be upheld.
Others have not yet indicated a change of heart, though they condemned the riots.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who was the first senator to say he would object to the Electoral votes, said that the floor of Congress was the appropriate place to raise such objections, though he condemned the violence that took place. He denied that Wednesday’s proceeding was merely a formality.
“This is the lawful place where those objections should be heard,” he said.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, voiced his objection to certifying Arizona’s votes toward the beginning of the joint session on Wednesday, prompting a standing ovation from other members.
Later, when protesters stormed the Capitol building, Cruz admonished on Twitter, “Those storming the Capitol need to stop NOW. The Constitution protects peaceful protest, but violence—from Left or Right— is ALWAYS wrong. And those engaged in violence are hurting the cause they say they support.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., called the riots “un-American.”
“I condemn any of this violence that is happening in the Capitol right now. I could not be sadder or more disappointed at the way our country looks at this very moment,” McCarthy told Fox News during the riot on Wednesday. “This is not the American way. This is not protected by the First Amendment. This must stop now.”
On Sunday, McCarthy told The Hill he felt it was “right” to debate the Electoral College votes at the joint session, saying, “How else do we have a way to change the election problems?”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who had planned to object on Wednesday, condemned protesters for “prohibiting us from doing our constitutional duty. I condemn them in the strongest possible terms. We are a nation of laws.”
“Call it what it is: An attack on the Capitol is an attack on democracy,” Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., wrote on Twitter. “Today we are trying to use the democratic process to address grievances. This violence inhibits our ability to do that. Violent protests were unacceptable this summer and are unacceptable now.”
“I share the frustration many Americans have over the Presidential Election; however, what happened at the U.S. Capitol today is unreasonable and unacceptable and I condemn it at the highest level,” wrote Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., who was just sworn in on Sunday and expected to object. He later tweeted, “We need to get back to the Chamber to finish our work – TONIGHT.”
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., who said he would “likely vote to sustain the objections” to the electors of Pennsylvania, tweeted Wednesday that protesters storming the Capitol “is not what our country stands for” and called for them to be prosecuted.
Other senators who were expected to object to the Electoral College votes shared statements on Twitter that condemned the violence, with many praising the Capitol police. Those senators included: Mike Braun, R-Ind., Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., John Kennedy, R-La., Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.
As of Wednesday night, Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., who was sworn in just a few days ago but also planned to object, had not yet issued a statement on his personal or professional Twitter accounts.
Other Republicans who are allies of Trump but hadn’t gone so far as to support objecting to the Electoral College votes also condemned the chaos on Capitol Hill Wednesday night.
Trump’s former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney criticized the president for not putting out a more forceful statement condemning the rioters.
“The President’s tweet is not enough. He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home,” he wrote on Twitter. Mulvaney told Yahoo Finance Live in an interview shortly after the election that lawyers trying to prove election fraud on behalf of Trump “have to put up or shut up on the evidence for the lawsuits.”
Trump had tweeted Wednesday, “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”
He later added, “Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue.”
Later, Trump posted a video again calling for no violence but also reiterating his unsubstantiated claim that the election was “stolen.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who was not one of the known members expected to object to the results, also pleaded on Twitter for Trump to offer more assistance.
“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,” he wrote.
Rubio has previously said claims of election irregularities or fraud should be decided by the courts. Trump and his allies have lost or withdrawn dozens of legal cases over the election.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., a strong ally of Trump’s, tweeted Wednesday, “This violence is unacceptable and needs to be met with the full force of the law.”
Cotton previously said he would not object to the election results but has expressed concern about “irregularities” in the presidential election, without presenting any evidence.
Cotton said in a statement before the proceeding Wednesday that even if Republicans prevailed, it “would essentially end presidential elections and place that power in the hands of whichever party controls Congress,” according to The Washington Post.
Arizona’s Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who certified Biden’s win in the state, tweeted Wednesday, “In America, we practice peaceful transitions of power. We respect the law and law enforcement. The scene at the United States Capitol right now is wrong and has no place in our form of government. All should denounce, and it should end now.”
Though Ducey certified Biden’s win, he has been criticized for not dismissing baseless claims of election fraud forcefully enough.