Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and several other Republican senators have reversed course in their plans to object to Electoral College votes on Jan. 6 following the civil unrest that broke out on U.S. Capitol grounds.
Loeffler, speaking from the Senate floor, said the unrest and acts of violence that occurred earlier in the day had forced her to reconsider challenging the electoral votes in several disputed states.
“I cannot now in good conscience object to the certification of these electors,” she said in a brief speech. “The violence, the lawlessness, and siege of the halls of Congress are abhorrent and stand as a direct attack on what my objection was intended to protect, the sanctity of the American democratic process.”
Loeffler, who lost her Senate runoff race, was joined by other lawmakers in dropping their plans to object to the disputed votes. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said in a statement that she has “decided I will vote to uphold the Electoral College result” a day after she said would support the efforts to challenge the votes.
Similarly, Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) have also released a joint statement calling on Congress to “come together and vote to certify the election results.” Daines had previously signed onto a letter committing to challenge disputed votes.
Earlier on Wednesday, a group of rioters breached the Capitol building after breaking windows to enter as lawmakers were in the House and Senate chambers to debate whether or not to count the available Electoral College votes. The violence and unrest forced lawmakers to suspend the debate, with some lawmakers evacuated from congressional buildings.
Heavily armed police eventually secured the grounds by dispersing protesters and rioters with teargas and percussion grenades. One woman, a Trump supporter, was killed after she was shot inside the U.S. Capitol, police have confirmed.
When Congress resumed some hours later, lawmakers from both houses used their time to talk on the House and Senate floor to condemn the violence. The two houses had separated into their own respective chambers to debate whether to reject the electoral votes cast for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in Arizona.
Upon resuming the session on Wednesday evening, Vice President Mike Pence condemned the violence.
“We condemn the violence that took place here in the strongest possible terms. We grieve the loss of life in these hallowed halls to those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today: you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house,” he said.
The Senate eventually rejected the challenge to Arizona’s certification in a 93-6 vote. The senators who voted for the challenge were: Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), and Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.).
The House has also voted against objecting to Arizona’s Electoral College votes 303-121.
Despite the mayhem, several senators are still persisting with their plans to challenge the electoral votes, such as Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.).
“Senator Hawley spoke during the debate on the Arizona objection but he will object to Pennsylvania once Congress returns to the joint session, and when the Senate and House go back to their chambers for the debate on Pennsylvania, he will yield his speaking time to move toward a vote,” Kelli Ford, a spokesperson for Hawley, told media outlets.