On Wednesday, both houses of Congress met in a joint session to certify the votes from the electoral college that will finalize the election of Joe Biden as president.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and several Texas members of the House of Representatives pledged to object to the certification of votes for several states where fraud has been alleged.
Under the statutory process, Vice President Mike Pence oversaw the counting of the votes from states in alphabetical order.
Alabama and Alaska, which both gave their electoral votes to President Donald Trump, went through without any objections.
But when the votes from Arizona — where questions of fraud have been raised by some Republicans, though without any success in courts — were counted in favor of Biden, Cruz and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) objected.
Per statute, the joint session of Congress recessed so that the House and Senate could meet separately to debate and vote on the objections.
As the debate went underway, the pro-Trump protesters outside grew more restless and began breaking into the Capitol.
I’m currently sheltering in place. The Capitol building has been breached and both chambers are locked down.
— Rep. Veronica Escobar (@RepEscobar) January 6, 2021
“To those storming the Capitol,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21), “I am on the House floor and I will not be deterred from upholding my oath, under God, to the Constitution by mob demand.”
Before the two hours of debate ended, both the House and Senate recessed their debates due to the emergency lockdown.
According to the newly elected Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX-04), he and three other freshmen Texas Republicans — Reps. Ronny Jackson (R-TX-13), Troy Nehls (R-TX-22), and Tony Gonzalez (R-TX-23) — helped shorthanded Capitol police establish and hold a barrier in the House chamber.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers from Texas alike have condemned the anarchy.
“Violence is always unacceptable. Even when passions run high. Anyone engaged in violence—especially against law enforcement—should be fully prosecuted. God bless the Capitol Police and the honorable men & women of law enforcement who show great courage keeping all of us safe,” tweeted Cruz.
Beto O’Rourke, Cruz’s 2018 challenger, blamed the senator for igniting the incident, saying, “It is your self serving attempt at sedition that has helped to inspire these terrorists and their attempted coup.”
Cruz in turn criticized O’Rourke for “stoking division” and “spreading hatred.”
“I condemn any effort meant to overthrow a legitimate election including the violence occurring outside the Capitol,” tweeted Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX-15). “Now is the time we must come together as a nation and move forward.”
Rep. Al Green (D-TX-09) echoed the sentiments of many Democrats in placing blame for the storming on Trump.
“[Trump], call on YOUR supporters to stop this madness that YOU incited!” tweeted Green. “The Constitution intended a peaceful transfer of power. This is seditious. Only a dictator or would-be dictator would encourage this. Which are you?”
Roy likewise called on Trump to issue a statement to “establish calm and order.”
At the start of the storm, Trump remained silent on the protests and instead attacked Pence for not blocking the certification of votes.
“Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth!” tweeted the president.
Shortly after, Trump tweeted twice asking protesters to “stay peaceful” and respect the Capitol Police.
Later, he also posted a video on social media — which was blocked from sharing by Twitter — in which he reiterated his claim that he won the election, but told protesters “you have to go home now, we have to have peace.”
More responses from Texas lawmakers to the incident on Wednesday can be found here.
Congress will resume the certification process soon.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.