After a chaotic day of protest and violence, Congress has certified Democrats Joe Biden as the next president and Kamala Harris as vice president of the United States, and Trump’s defeat.
The action finalizes the 2020 US electoral process and makes clear that Biden will be inaugurated as president on January 20, President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede notwithstanding.
“The United States Senate will not be intimidated,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell who rejected Trump’s claims of election fraud as unfounded and blasted pro-Trump protesters who stormed the US Capitol.
“We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation. We are back at our posts. We will discharge our duty under the constitution,” McConnell said when the Senate reconvened after rioters were removed from the Capitol.
The US Constitution requires Congress to count the votes of the Electoral College submitted by the states. Biden won 306 electors to 232 for Trump.
The votes confirming Biden as president are a forceful rejection of Trump’s claims that the election was stolen from him through illegitimate balloting in key states.
Pro-Trump politicians objecting to the certification of Biden were unable to present evidence of substantial fraud that would overturn the vote in any state. Courts had repeatedly dismissed dozens of Trump’s legal claims.
But a faction of Republican senators and representatives had intended to object to Wednesday’s count of electors from key states that had given Biden the win – Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
The effort was largely symbolic and doomed to fail as majorities of lawmakers in both chambers planned to reject Trump’s false claims of fraud and vote to certify Biden.
But after the invasion of the Capitol, leaders of the effort backed away from plans to use procedural rules to force lengthy debates and votes on certifying the electors of each state Trump is disputing.
Instead, the House and the Senate which reconvened on Wednesday night voted to reject objections to Arizona’s vote. The Senate voted 93-6 to reject the objection to Arizona’s vote. The House voted 303 to 121 to dismiss the objection to Arizona.
A second objection, to Pennsylvania’s vote, pushed the process into the early hours of Thursday morning, with only 7 Senators approving it, and 92 votings against it. In the House it was rejected 282 to 138, paving the way for the final certification.
The process to certify Biden had just begun on Wednesday afternoon when pro-Trump protesters, waving Trump flags and wearing “Make America Great Again” hats, broke into the US Capitol building and swarmed through the hallways, forcing members in both the House and the Senate to retreat to secure locations.
Earlier in the day, Trump had offered incendiary words to thousands of supporters on the Ellipse, a large grassy field outside the White House.
“If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said.
He encouraged them to go to the Capitol and said he would join them. Trump returned to the White House as crowds converged on the Capitol.