President-elect Joe Biden and vice president-elect, Kamala Harris, were formally certified on Thursday by a joint session of Congress as the next president and vice-president of the United States. Biden received 306 electoral votes, and Trump received 232 electoral votes. Biden is expected to take the oath of office on January 20.
The process concluded shortly after 3:30 a.m. EST after a chaotic and violent day, in which pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building, forcing members of Congress to stop the certification process for hours.
When the Senate resumed the process at 8 p.m. (local time), the process continued while leaders of both parties strongly condemned the violent breach into the Congress building.
Vice President Mike Pence said that today “was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol,” and thanked the local and federal law enforcement for their work. “We condemn the violence that took place here in the strongest possible terms,” he said. “To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today – you did not win. Violence never wins,” Pence continued. “Freedoms wins, and this is still the people’s house.”
He went on to say that “even in the wake of unprecedented violence and vandalism at this Capitol, the elected representatives of the people of the United States have assembled again on the very same day to support and defend the constitution of the United States.” He ended his remarks by calling the senators: “Let’s get back to work.”
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said in his speech: “we’ve never been deterred before, and we’ll be not deterred today. They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed, they failed. They failed to attempt to obstruct the Congress. This failed insurrection only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our republic.”
“We’ve fulfilled a solemn duty every four years for more than two centuries, whether our nation has been at war or peace under all manner of threats, even during an ongoing armed rebellion and the civil war, the clockwork of our democracy has carried on,” he added.
“We assembled this afternoon to count our citizens’ votes and to formalize their choice of the next president,” McConnell continued. “Now we’re going to finish exactly what we started. We’ll complete the process the right way by the book; will follow our precedent, our laws, and our constitution, to the letter. And we will certify the winner of the 2020 presidential election.”
He went on to say that “criminal behavior never dominated the United States Congress. This institution is resilient. Our democratic republic is strong. The American people deserve nothing less.”
“This temple to democracy was desecrated,” said Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer. “Its windows smashed and our offices vandalized. The world saw Americans elected officials hurriedly ushered out because they were in harm’s way. The House and Senate floors were places of shelter until the evacuation was ordered.”
“This will be a stain on our country, not so easily washed away,” said Schumer. “I want to be very clear. Those who perform these reprehensible acts cannot be called protesters. No, these were rioters and insurrectionists, goons and thugs, domestic terrorists.”
“They do not represent America,” Schumer continued. “They were a few thousand violent extremists who tried to take over the Capitol building and attack our democracy. They must ensure they would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, hopefully by this administration. If not – certainly by the next.”