The majority of House Republicans still chose to reject electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania, hours after a pro-Trump mob fueled by conspiracy theories stormed the Capitol Wednesday, leaving one woman dead and a nation rattled.
These votes had no material effect on the transition of power. After the Capitol had been cleared, Congress met in a joint session to fulfill its legal obligation to count the Electoral College’s votes, but given that Democrats hold a majority in the House and most Senate Republicans were unwilling to object, there was no path forward, and the votes failed. A majority of both chambers have to reject a state’s votes for an objection to stick.
However, after a day of violent insurrection, it has become too clear just how dangerous it can be to feed into anti-democratic delusions.
Ever since Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks announced his intention to object in early December, the idea gained steam among the Republican caucus; at one point, as many as 14 Republican senators, led by Sens. Josh Hawley (MO) and Ted Cruz (TX), had signed on to object as well.
The objecting members point to baseless allegations of voting irregularities and claims that large proportions of their constituents believe the election was stolen as the basis for their stance. However, these Republicans have ignored their own role in fomenting conspiracy theories around the election. Their concerns also fail to account for the overwhelming evidence that there was no widespread voter fraud.
President Donald Trump and prominent Republicans’ focus on the normally mundane counting of the votes turned January 6 into perhaps the last showdown for Trump’s supporters who believed the election had been stolen. Marching from a rally where they were egged on by the president himself, rioters flooded into the Capitol and managed to stall the proceedings.
The day’s events seemed to have a clear effect on Senate Republicans: In the end, about half of the senators planning to object changed their minds. Only six — 12 percent of the Senate Republican caucus — voted to object. However, 121 House Republicans, or 57 percent of the House Republican caucus, chose to vote in favor of the baseless belief that Arizona’s Electoral College votes were somehow compromised. And 138 House Republicans voted in favor of challenging Pennsylvania’s results.
Tempers flared during the debate over Pennsylvania in the midst of a fiery speech by Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) where he called out some of his Republican colleagues for lying about the fairness of the election. “We know that that attack today, it didn’t materialize out of nowhere, it was inspired by lies — the same lies that you’re hearing in this room tonight. And the members who are repeating those lies should be ashamed of themselves, their constituents should be ashamed of them,” he said.
"Get outta here!"— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 7, 2021
A confrontation breaks out after GOP Rep. Morgan Griffith asks to strike out comments from Rep. Conor Lamb saying Republicans lied about the election.
Lamb replies, "The truth hurts" https://t.co/wTKxzqAo9U pic.twitter.com/XDA9ArvRrG
Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) asked for Lamb’s remarks about lies to be stricken from the record, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) declined. “You say that about me every single day,” she said.
Disorder briefly broke out, with members talking and shouting and standing. Eventually, order was regained. “The truth hurts,” Lamb said.
In the early morning hours on Thursday, Congress formally recognized Joe Biden’s victory. He will be sworn in on January 20.