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How Pro-Trump Insurrection At The U.S. Capitol Affected Electoral Vote Certification

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Congress is so determined to return to the work of Washington, the business of the day, that lawmakers have returned tonight after all the dramatic events that have occurred to finish what it barely started. That is counting electoral votes. They plan to honor the 12th Amendment's demand, which reads as follows; quote, "the president of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted." And so our lawmakers proceed tonight. And we're joined now by NPR's Claudia Grisales to talk about how that's going.

Hi, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hi there.

CHANG: All right. So, of course, the president of the Senate is Vice President Mike Pence. It was clear pretty early today - right? - that he was not going to go against the certification of the Electoral College votes. He would break from the president's calls to not concede this election. Vice President Mike Pence gave some sobering remarks tonight. Can you talk about what you heard?

GRISALES: Yeah, there was a clear reflection on what had happened today; the chaos and the panic and the fears, the worries that descended on the Capitol complex today as this violent mob made their way through the Capitol. And there was really a sense of determination. It seemed that Pence was trying to reset the tone tonight and said despite this disruption, despite what we saw happen here today, we will not be deterred. He said, quote, "the world will again witness the resilience and strength of our democracy." And he was met with applause. He said, let's get back to work. And so that's what we're seeing now. We're seeing that work unfold on the floor many hours later. And they could wrap this day, these plans today, shorter than they even planned initially before this all happened.

CHANG: Exactly. As we said earlier, perhaps these protests ironically accelerated the certification of the Electoral College votes.

GRISALES: Exactly.

CHANG: Let's talk about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He also gave some remarks tonight. He talked about how the Senate will not be intimidated, how we will not bow to lawlessness. Can you talk about what struck you as you listened to McConnell speak tonight?

GRISALES: I think it was clear that there was a frustration, an anger, a disappointment in what they saw unfold today at the Capitol; that this is not the way our government should function. We should not see scenes like this descending on the building and having members, staffers, workers evacuated - these fears of injuries and worse from today. And so he - to me, he made these somber remarks. But at the same time, like Vice President Pence, he was determined to get to the business at hand and said they wouldn't be deterred by these, quote, "thugs, mobs or threats." And so you could see it was clear that he was also trying to strike this tone of unity, of getting to the end of this mission today to resolve this electoral vote and, again, confirm President-elect Joe Biden's win.

CHANG: And can you just, for those of us - for those listeners who are just tuning in, can you just catch us up on what happened? After the chaos began, lawmakers were scattered across the Capitol. They have had to shelter in place. Some were evacuated. Can you just give us a brief summary of what happened earlier?

GRISALES: Yes, it sounds like they were basically secluded to these locations and had to sit there for hours as the Capitol's security was again restored. This was quite a time for reflection. And we've seen a lot of these Republican senators who said they were going to object to results - they're changing their tune there, and they're saying that they don't plan to move forward. Now, there are a couple of members...

CHANG: OK.

GRISALES: ...We're still waiting to hear from, but it looks like this could wrap soon.

CHANG: Yes. That is NPR's Claudia Grisales.

Thank you, Claudia.

GRISALES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.