WASHINGTON – After debating into the early morning hours, Congress officially certified former Vice President Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
In a speech Wednesday night, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky talked about the certification vote in light of the events that transpired earlier that afternoon, when an angry mob breached the Capitol building and elected officials retreated to secure locations. The attack occurred after weeks of President Donald Trump claiming the election was stolen from him and as some Republican members of Congress were objecting to certifying the Electoral College results, citing changes to election procedure in states including Pennsylvania and Georgia that were not first approved by those states’ legislatures.
“The United States Senate will not be intimidated,” McConnell said. “We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats. We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation. We are back at our posts. We will discharge our duty under the Constitution for our nation. And we are going to do it tonight.
“This afternoon, Congress began the process of honoring the will of the American people and counting the Electoral College votes. We have fulfilled this solemn duty every four years for more than two centuries. Whether our nation has been at war or at peace, under all manner of threats, even during an ongoing armed rebellion and Civil War, the clockwork of our democracy has carried on. The United States and the United States Congress have faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today. We have never been deterred before and we will not be deterred today.
“They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed.
“This failed attempt to obstruct the Congress, this failed insurrection, only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our Republic. Our nation was founded precisely so that the free choice of the American people is what shapes our self-government and determines the destiny of our nation. Not fear. Not force. But the peaceful expression of the popular will.
“We assembled this afternoon to count our citizens’ votes and formalize their choice of the next president. Now we are going to finish what we started. We will complete this process the right way, by the book. We will follow our precedents, our laws, and our Constitution to the letter. And we will certify the winner of the 2020 presidential election.
“Criminal behavior will never dominate the United States Congress. This institution is resilient. Our democratic republic is strong. The American people deserve nothing less.”
McConnell also issued a statement on Thursday praising Capitol Police officers for protecting members of Congress during the storming of the Capitol, but also said there was a need for an investigation into how the event was allowed to happen in the first place.
“I salute and applaud those front-line U.S. Capitol Police officers who stood bravely in harm’s way during yesterday’s failed insurrection,” McConnell said. “We are praying today for those who sustained injuries, some serious, in the line of duty. Congress is also deeply grateful to the local officers from D.C., Virginia and Maryland, the federal law enforcement personnel, the National Guard, and all the other professionals who deployed to help subdue the criminals and retake the Capitol.
“With that said, yesterday represented a massive failure of institutions, protocols and planning that are supposed to protect the first branch of our federal government. A painstaking investigation and thorough review must now take place and significant changes must follow. Initial bipartisan discussions have already begun among committees of oversight and Congressional Leadership.
“The ultimate blame for yesterday lies with the unhinged criminals who broke down doors, trampled our nation’s flag, fought with law enforcement and tried to disrupt our democracy, and with those who incited them. But this fact does not and will not preclude our addressing the shocking failures in the Capitol’s security posture and protocols.”
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky joined McConnell in certifying to the Electoral College results. In the House, Kentucky Republicans James Comer, Brett Guthrie, Thomas Massie and Andy Barr and Democrat John Yarmuth also voted to certify Biden the winner, but Republican Hal Rogers did not.
Marisa McNee, spokesperson for the Kentucky Democratic Party, strongly condemned Rogers’ vote.
“Yesterday, after domestic terrorists breached the U.S.Capitol in one of the worst moments in our country’s history, Congressman Hal Rogers did the unthinkable: he enabled and emboldened the mob by voting to overturn the will of the American voters,” McNee said in a statement. “It was an act so reprehensible that no other Republican in Kentucky’s federal delegation was willing to join Rogers. If Hal Rogers wants to side with domestic terrorists, he should resign from Congress immediately and let someone else represent his district.”
Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Mac Brown also issued a statement on the certification.
“The Republican Party of Kentucky worked hard to deliver our state’s electoral votes for the Republican ticket,” he said. “We thank Kentucky’s presidential electors for their service to our state and country. The Electoral College is a critical piece of the vision of representative government set forth by the Founders in our Constitution. We stand against any attempts to overturn these principles.
“The world looks to our country to set an example of leadership. Now that our election is over it is time for Americans to unite together behind the principles set forth in our laws and Constitution.”
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and incoming Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer joined calls for Trump to be immediately removed from office by invoking the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution., accusing Trump of inciting violence and insurrection.
“I join the Senate Democratic leader in calling on the vice president to remove this president by immediately invoking the 25th Amendment,” Pelosi said during a Thursday news conference. “If the vice president and Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment.”