U.S. Capitol on lockdown as Congress considers Electoral College count and control of the U.S. Senate up in the air
The U.S. Capitol was placed on lockdown and buildings were evacuated Wednesday amid increasingly violent protests outside.
The protests come as Congress is considering the Electoral College count that would certify former Vice President Joe Biden as President-elect if results remained the same.
Shots were fired into the House chamber and tear gas was being used in the Rotunda among other violent acts as supporters of President Donald Trump protesting made their way inside the U.S. Capitol.
Ahead of the protests becoming violent in a speech on the floor, Kentucky U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell called the issue at hand “the most important vote I have ever cast.”
““We are debating a step that has never been taken in American history: Whether Congress should overrule voters and overturn a presidential election. I have served 36 years in the Senate. This will be the most important vote I have ever cast,” McConnell said. “The voters, the courts, and the states have all spoken. If we overrule them all, it would damage our republic forever. This election was not unusually close. Just in recent history, 1976, 2000, and 2004 were all closer. This Electoral College margin is almost identical to 2016. If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral. We’d never see the whole nation accept an election again.”
Meanwhile, Democrats are on the brink of seizing control of the U.S. Senate after Georgia held two runoff elections Tuesday. Democrat Raphael Warnock has been declared the winner in his special election over GOP Senator Kelly Loeffler, and Democrat Jon Ossof is leading incumbent GOP Senator David Perdue as of Wednesday morning with the latter race still too close to call.
With 98 percent of the expected vote tallied, Ossof was ahead of Purdue by approximately 17,000 votes. As election officials continue to tally a number of mail-in, provisional, and early ballots, pundits suggested Wednesday that the roughly 100,000 outstanding votes are likely to favor Democrats.
“The bulk of the votes left to count are in Atlanta and its suburbs, where Warnock and Ossoff racked up big margins in the runoffs,” according to Politico.
Democrats must claim victory in the Ossof-Purdue race in order to deadlock the Senate at 50-50 and give Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the role of tiebreaker, thus giving Democrats the majority.
If the second runoff between Ossof and Purdue stays close, it is likely the race will not be called until at least Friday, which is the Georgia deadline for certain ballots from military and overseas voters to be counted.
Georgia had one of the closest margins in the November 2020 Presidential election and did not declare President-elect Joe Biden the winner until Nov. 13, ten days after election day.