Washington — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says lawmakers intend to return to the Capitol to finish the counting of Electoral College votes, hours after a mob of angry rioters overran the building and sent members of Congress fleeing.
“[I]n consultation with Leader Hoyer and Whip Clyburn and after calls to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Vice President, we have decided we should proceed tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use,” Pelosi said in a statement shortly after 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Chaos erupted inside the Capitol earlier as thousands of pro-Trump demonstrators charged the complex and eventually made their way into the Senate chamber, plunging Washington into crisis and halting the congressional count of Electoral College votes to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Both the House and Senate recessed in response to the breach, and Vice President Mike Pence, who was in the Senate, was whisked away.
As protesters made their way inside the complex, senators and members of the press were evacuated from the Senate chamber, and armed officers inside the House chamber aimed firearms at protesters attempting to breach the barricaded doors. Lawmakers remained in hiding for hours as hundreds of law enforcement officers worked to clear the building and control the crisis.
One woman was shot inside the complex and later succumbed to her injuries, police said.
The incredible scene unfolded after lawmakers gathered in a joint session to count the Electoral College votes and seal Biden’s victory in November’s election. Soon after the joint session began, GOP lawmakers objected to results from Arizona, a move that prompted each chamber to begin debating the objection separately.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell excoriated his fellow Republicans’ efforts to block state electors, saying that overturning the will of the voters would “damage our republic forever” in a blistering speech from the Senate floor. Protesters who had gathered outside made their way into the chamber not long after McConnell’s speech.
As the chaos unfolded inside the Capitol, the president refused to call on his supporters to end the siege, eventually urging them only to “remain peaceful.” Several hours later, he called on them to “go home now” but again declined to condemn the violence.
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