The U.S. Congress confirmed Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election in the small hours of Thursday morning, after pro-Trump rioters were expelled from the Capitol following hours of chaos and violence on Wednesday night.
The electoral college vote total passed the winning total of 270 around 3.30 a.m., confirming Biden as the next President and Kamala Harris as the Vice President-Elect. The final tally was 306 for the Biden-Harris ticket, versus 232 for Trump and Mike Pence.
Donald Trump released a statement shortly thereafter, promising an “orderly transition.” Presidential aide Dan Scavino tweeted the statement from his account, as Trump’s has been temporarily locked.
“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes are counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”
Both houses of Congress turned aside an objection to the result from Arizona, which cast its 11 electoral votes for Biden. The Senate voted 93-6 to deny the objection. A short while later, the House also voted it down 303-121. The two houses then returned to a joint session and resumed the vote count, proceeding through the states in alphabetical order.
About 70 Republican House members sought to object to the vote in Georgia and Michigan, but no senator agreed to sign on to the objections, so the count proceeded. About 55 Republican House members objected to the outcome in Nevada, but again, no senator signed on to the objection.
Sen. Josh Hawley, however, signed an objection to the vote in Pennsylvania, halting the count and forcing both houses to retire to their chambers to consider it shortly after midnight.
Senators did not debate the issue, but instead proceeded quickly to a vote. They voted 92-7 against the Republican motion to overturn the Biden victory in Pennsylvania.
The House conducted a late night debate on Pennsylvania, which included a brief confrontation between Representatives Andy Harris and Colin Allred. A sergeant-at-arms was present for what C-Span described as a “scrum.” In the vote that followed, the motion to overturn the Pennsylvania electoral college was defeated by 138 to 282. The Republican representatives split their vote 138 in favor, while 64 voted with the Democrat delegation. The defeat of the objection motion allowed the joint session on certification to restart again shortly after 3:20 a.m.
The House and Senate were considering the Arizona objection in separate sessions when the rioters interrupted the proceedings earlier in the afternoon. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi restarted the House on Wednesday night, saying that violence showed the “weakness” of the rioters’ position.
Vice President Mike Pence gaveled the Senate back into session, calling it a “dark day.” The senators assumed a somber tone, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling the violent outbreak a “failed insurrection.”
“This temple to democracy was desecrated,” said Charles Schumer, the Democratic leader, who said it would be a “the final, terrible, indelible legacy” of President Trump.
The Congress had convened at 1 p.m. in joint session to certify the result of the Electoral College. Earlier in the day, Trump held a rally at which he continued to foment unrest over the election, which he has claimed was “rigged” against him. He encouraged demonstrators to march on the Capitol. The demonstrators overwhelmed the Capitol Police, overran barricades, and smashed windows to gain entry to the building. The lawmakers were forced to seek cover and evacuate.
A woman was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer during the ensuing chaos. Later, it emerged that four people had died.
Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington, D.C., called a 6 p.m. curfew. The Metropolitan Police Department made 52 arrests, including 26 arrests on the Capitol grounds, said Chief Robert Contee. Some of the arrests were for curfew violations. Two pipe bombs were also recovered outside the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee. Contee said that three other people died in the area after suffering medical emergencies.
Bowser said the police would also be reviewing video and asking for the public’s help in locating people who trespassed in the Capitol.
“Some of them we think have to be held accountable for the carnage,” she said.
The president has been joined in objecting to the outcome by more than a dozen senators, who have echoed his claims about voting procedures in several states Biden won. After the riot, however, several senators withdrew their objections.
“I cannot now in good conscience object to the certification of these electors,” said Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who was defeated in a runoff election on Tuesday. “Upholding democracy is the only path to preserving our republic.”
Sen. James Lankford, who had been speaking on his objection to Arizona’s vote tally when the session was interrupted, also signaled that the outcome was clear, saying that Biden would be certified as the winner.
Sen. Mitt Romney called on his colleagues to drop their objections and unanimously affirm the outcome of the presidential election.
“What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States,” Romney said.
Hawley, who has led the resistance to the certification, said he would continue to pursue his objections.
“This is the appropriate place for these concerns to be raised,” he said. He added that “violence is never warranted.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has been closely aligned with Trump in recent years, said he could not support the effort to overturn the result.
“Enough’s enough,” Graham said. “We gotta end it… Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are lawfully elected and will become the president and vice president of the United States on Jan. 20.”
Patrick Frater contributed to this report.