Joe Biden has been certified the winner of the 2020 presidential election, despite last-ditch efforts from President Donald Trump and his allies to block the results that incited violence in the U.S. Capitol.
Congress finished tallying the Electoral College votes that cemented Biden’s 306-232 victory in the overnight hours Thursday, more than 12 hours after pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol, plunging the proceedings into chaos and sending lawmakers, their staffers and reporters scurrying for shelter.
Both chambers were suspended as lawmakers ducked and covered. When they reconvened well after dark on Wednesday, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle moved swiftly to condemn the violence and restore order to proceedings that are typically little more than a ceremonial exercise.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the swarming of the Capitol a “failed insurrection.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said it was a day that will “live forever in infamy.”
Vice President Mike Pence, the Senate’s presiding officer, said, “To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win.”
Multiple GOP senators who had planned to object to Biden’s win reversed course after the day’s violence, including Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, who lost her Senate race on Wednesday.
U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham, a longtime Trump ally, called it a “uniquely bad idea to delay this election” adding, “count me out.”
U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney said those who rejected the results “will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.”
Both chambers had been debating a Republican-led challenge to Arizona’s results when the violent mob breached the Capitol. That challenge was quickly rejected once lawmakers reconvened.
House members then challenged the results in several states, including Georgia, that did not receive Senate support. But a joint challenge of Pennsylvania’s results triggered votes in both chambers. The Senate moved quickly to reject the challenge, while debate in the House stretched well past 2 a.m.
Lawmakers ultimately finished their work before dawn Thursday, confirming Biden won the election.
The certification brings a long-awaited sense of finality to a presidential race that has roiled the nation long past Election Day and has now resulted in one of the most unprecedented days in American history.
The tumultuous day began before Congress initially convened at 1 p.m., when Trump told supporters in a rally near the White House that he would “never concede” the election and continued to put pressure on Pence to intervene on his behalf.
“If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election,” Trump said.
Pence rebuffed Trump’s pleas, writing in a letter that, “It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”
In response, Trump tweeted, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done.”
The first objection to the Electoral College vote came mere minutes into the joint session, with a group of Republicans, led by U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, challenging the results from Arizona and forcing both chambers into debates that were soon disrupted by the rioters.
At the time, McConnell harshly condemned the efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the election, saying they could send “our democracy into a death spiral.”