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Latest From The Congressional Meeting To Certify Electoral College Votes

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Well, at this hour, both the House and Senate are back at work under intense security hours after pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol building. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed what happened as House debate on the Electoral College votes resumed a short time ago.

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NANCY PELOSI: The House will be in order. The chair will address the chamber. Today a shameful assault was made on our democracy. It cannot, however, deter us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

CHANG: President Trump urged his supporters to head to the Capitol today. And even after violence broke out, he stood by them. NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis joins us now.

Hi, Sue.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey, Ailsa.

CHANG: So what has the mood been like as lawmakers have resumed business tonight?

DAVIS: You know, if you had not paid attention to the television today and just tuned in tonight, it is resumed debate. The House and Senate are back in session, Republicans and Democrats going back-and-forth over the Electoral College results. We still expect there to be some objections. I would say overall, the mood has been fairly somber. Members have recognized how serious today was, the threat that it posed - and a lot of calls for unity to assert the election as they were set out to do today. And overwhelmingly, lawmakers wanted to come in back to session tonight. There was no disagreement. Members wanted to come in. They wanted the country to see them doing their jobs, to see them on the floor of the House and Senate and to get this done.

CHANG: To show that they could not be deterred - well, where do things stand right now in the process of counting the Electoral College votes?

DAVIS: You know, there's still - have a long way to go. They're only on Arizona. They still have 48 more states in the electoral count certification process. It goes alphabetical by state. There was an initial objection raised to the Arizona count. They're still in the debate time for that. It's a maximum of two hours. This was an objection raised by Paul Gosar of Arizona that was seconded in the Senate by Ted Cruz of Texas. They have to exhaust this debate, and then both chambers have to vote on it. It will be rejected, and then they go back into joint session and will continue their way through the alphabetical list of states in order. The question is, will there be any other objections? There has been some news tonight. Several senators who were initially going to object to the Electoral College results have withdrawn their objections.

CHANG: Yeah.

DAVIS: Notably, Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler, who lost her own reelection campaign yesterday, was going to object to the Georgia results. And she declared on the floor that she could no longer in good conscience do that. But we still know that at least Roger Marshall of Kansas and Josh Hawley of Missouri do intend to continue with their objection, so we know we will have at least one more objection likely for the state of Pennsylvania.

CHANG: But is it your sense that there has been a substantial change of heart or change in attitude among Republicans who were planning on objecting to the Electoral College votes?

DAVIS: There has certainly been a number of Republicans - a handful of Republicans, not an overwhelming number - who have come out and said that the events of the day changed their mind. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from the state of Washington, a former member of leadership, was one of those Republicans. Also, Senators Steve Daines of Montana, James Lankford of Oklahoma put out a joint statement saying that they would no longer consider themselves objectors in the Senate. There is also increasingly some tension within the party. There has been Republican senators on the floor tonight really critical of their colleagues who have objected to the processing. It undermines democracy. It undermines the system. Mitt Romney of Utah, obviously a former presidential candidate himself, gave a really impassioned speech on the Senate floor just now, saying that if you want to give Americans confidence in their election, the most important thing you can do is tell them the truth - in his words - and the truth being that Joe Biden won this election. So a lot of recriminations, I think, still to come within the Republican Party for over how lawmakers sort of supported and tried to legitimize many of the president's false allegations here.

CHANG: Now, Sue, real quick, I mean, you have spent so many years in that building, I mean, almost every day the last several years. Was it striking to you how easily these rioters got into the building?

DAVIS: Oh, I think it has stunned everyone. And Zoe Lofgren is a top Democrat on the House administration committee - has put out a statement saying the House and Senate and leadership are going to go into a review to see how this happened and try to make sure that it can never happen again.

CHANG: That is NPR's Susan Davis.

Thank you so much, Sue.

DAVIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.