Senators Change Their Tune After Capital Riots


TapTheForwardAssist via Wikimedia Commons under the creative commons license

Rioters overwhelm Capitol Police and successfully breach the Nations Capitol (6 January 2021)

Just after 2:00 pm EST, January the 6th, a group of primarily right-wing activists started breaking windows and storming the Capitol Building in Washington DC, interrupting a vote to certify the electoral college results confirming Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. as the next president of the United States of America.

Members of both houses and their staff were rushed into safe quarters where they were successfully shielded from the rioters by Capitol Police. There they sheltered in place until the rioters were cleared from the building. 

Around 8:00 pm EST, the building was declared secure and members of Congress returned to their chambers determined to continue the process of certifying the electoral college result and in the end, rejected the objection 93-6. A count that, before the events of that afternoon, was supposed to have a heavier number of objections. 

The objection written by senator Ted Cruz was initially supported by 11 other senators but almost half of them withdrew their support after the riots that afternoon.

Sen Kelly Loeffler, one of the most high profile Senators to flip votes after the DC riots Jan. 6 (Photo Via Wikimedia Commons Under the Creative Commons License )

One notable flip was the outspoken republican Senator from Georgia, Kelly Loeffler, who just days earlier had promised her support to President Trump saying in a statement “Tens of millions of Americans have real concerns about the way in which the November presidential election was conducted — and I share their concerns”. 

Loeffler just days earlier had lost her very high profile senate runoff race in Georgia, giving up her seat to a democrat newcomer, Rev. Raphael Warnock. Her nay vote came as a surprise to many as she had been one of President Trump’s loudest advocates in the Senate chamber. 

“The events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider and I cannot now, in good conscience, object,” said Loeffler, in what may have been her last ever speech as a Georgien Senator.  

Republican Senator from Oklahoma, Jim Langford, also withdrew his support from the objection stating “While we disagree — and disagree strongly at times — we do not encourage what happened today, ever” and “We are headed toward certification of Joe Biden as [President of the United States] and we will work together.”

Though there were significant changes in the support of the objection, Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Cindy Hyde-Smith, John Neely Kennedy, Roger Marshall, and Tommy Tuberville all carried through with objecting to the electors despite the events of that afternoon. 

During his address to the Senate, Sen. Josh Hawley said “[I want] to say to millions of Americans [that] violence is never warranted, that violence will not be tolerated, that those who engage in it will be prosecuted, but that this body will act to address the concerns of all Americans across the country. We do need an investigation into irregularities, fraud,”

Over the course of the history of the Federal Government, the confirmation of the votes of the electoral college by congress has been largely a formality with objections only being raised in the years 1969 and 2005. With the events of this past year, this confirmation was clearly anything but a formality, with more than 10% of the entire senate initially planning to support the rejection of the election. In the house, 121 republican congressmen still voted for a similar rejection of Arizona’s electoral certification. 

Shortly after Congress had confirmed Joe Biden as the next president of the United States of America at around 3:45 a.m. the next morning, Senate Chaplain Barry Black delivered the following prayer condemning the riots and reminding the legislators of their civic responsibilities as elected officials of this nation.

“Lord of our lives and sovereign of our beloved nation, we deplore the desecration of the United States Capitol building, the shedding of innocent blood, the loss of life, and the quagmire of dysfunction that threaten our democracy. . . You have strengthened our resolve to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies domestic as well as foreign. . .Use us to bring healing and unity to our hurting and divided nation and world. . . .God bless America.”