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A Look At Congressional Meeting After The Insurrection At The U.S. Capitol

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

An unbelievable day at the U.S. Capitol is coming closer to an end as lawmakers have returned to the floor of the Senate to finish certifying the results of November's presidential election. One woman is dead, and the streets of Washington, D.C., are now filled with law enforcement after a large, violent mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol, forcing lawmakers and staff into lockdown for hours. Now with the Capitol secured and lawmakers back at work, their tone has turned emotional. Here is Vice President Mike Pence, who is the president of the Senate.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins, and this is still the people's house.

CHANG: Joining us now with the latest is NPR political editor Domenico Montanaro.

Hey, Domenico.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Hey there.

CHANG: All right, so lawmakers returned to session just about an hour ago. And the session opened with a series of speeches by lawmakers uniformly condemning the events that we saw today. Here is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MITCH MCCONNELL: The United States and the United States Congress have faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today. We've never been deterred before, and we'll be not deterred today. They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed. They failed.

CHANG: They failed; strong words from the majority leader. Tell us, Domenico, what else has been said so far on the Senate floor tonight?

MONTANARO: Well, you know, there's been a lot of debate on the Senate floor, going back and forth a little bit with some members trying to deliver impassioned pleas - Democrats, in particular - across the aisle, telling their Republican colleagues who would have objected or had considered objecting to not do so, to not take this up because the House can have someone object. But then they need a senator to sign off on that objection to continue to delay this process. You heard Mike Lee from Utah, for example, a Republican, who said that their job is to open the envelopes, count the votes, open count. He said, that's it, right?

CHANG: (Laughter) Right.

MONTANARO: And then Cory Booker delivered a really impassioned plea, talking about how the last time there was an insurrection in the U.S. Capitol where people came into the Capitol the way they did today was in the War of 1812. And he talked about how, you know, that was a time when people were trying to take over the United States. And here, he said, we invited it from within.

CHANG: I mean, a truly extraordinary comparison there.

MONTANARO: Right. Obviously, that's a big deal.

CHANG: Well, what have we been hearing from those Republicans who had originally planned to object today? Are we seeing a great wave of shifting at this point?

MONTANARO: We have seen a few of them now start to shift away. Kelly Loeffler, who lost her race last night in Georgia, in particular, had picked up, you know, the torch before her election, saying she was going to be on this and said that the events that transpired today have forced her to reconsider her objection; and I cannot now in good conscience object to the certification of these electors. We saw that from James Lankford of Oklahoma, Steve Daines of Montana, as well as Mike Braun from Indiana, who have now withdrawn their objections as well. So we're waiting to hear on - from a handful of others, in particular Josh Hawley from Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, who - and Ron Johnson from Wisconsin, who were really instigators in all of this.

CHANG: And what have we heard so far today from President Trump since all of this began?

MONTANARO: You know, he's been all over the place. And, you know, after being begged by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to do something to quell what was going on right in the middle of all this, he put out a tweet that said, you know, this is - we understand how this can happen, but go home, you know? And then he put out a video that was then really just - it was taken down. It was blocked, essentially, by Twitter because it didn't - wasn't strong enough and, they felt, inciting violence.

CHANG: That is NPR's Domenico Montanaro.

Thank you, Domenico.

MONTANARO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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