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US Congress overwhelmingly rejects 1st challenge to certifying Biden win

Senators vote 93-6 against effort to reject Arizona’s 11 electoral votes; 82 House Republicans side with Democrats; Lindsey Graham abandons Trump: ‘Count me out. Enough is enough’

Speaker of the US House Nancy Pelosi presides over a reconvened joint session of Congress in the House Chamber on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Amanda Voisard - Pool/Getty Images/AFP)
Speaker of the US House Nancy Pelosi presides over a reconvened joint session of Congress in the House Chamber on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Amanda Voisard - Pool/Getty Images/AFP)

The US Senate and House late Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected the objection by some Republican lawmakers to certifying Arizona’s electoral vote for Joe Biden, after a riot by Donald Trump supporters forced a delay in the process.

Senators voted 93 to 6 against the effort to reject Arizona’s 11 electoral votes, overcoming the first of what may be multiple hurdles to the November presidential election’s certification.

“We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs, or threats. We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation,” said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “We are back at our posts. We will discharge our duty under the Constitution for our nation. And we are going to do it tonight.”

As senators debated, Trump took it on the chin from longtime critics like Mitt Romney. But many Republicans who spent years tiptoeing around Trump’s often-scandalous behavior seemed to finally have had enough.

In this image from video, Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks as the Senate reconvenes to debate the objection to confirm the Electoral College Vote from Arizona, after protesters stormed into the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. (Senate Television via AP)

Trump ally Lindsey Graham also abandoned the president, appearing to cite his role in encouraging the mob.

“Trump and I, we had a hell of a journey. I hate it being this way,” Graham said. “From my point of view, he’s been a consequential president. But today … all I can say is count me out. Enough is enough.”

The House of Representatives voted 303-121 against the objection, with 82 Republicans siding with the Democrats.

The joint session of Congress is certifying the electoral votes of all 50 states to confirm Biden’s 306-232 electoral victory in November.

It was delayed when protesters stormed the Capitol building, triggering unprecedented chaos and violence that drew condemnation from around the world and was seen as an assault on the heart of US democracy.

Egged on in an extraordinary rally by an aggrieved Trump, a flag-waving mob broke down barricades outside the Capitol and swarmed inside, rampaging through offices and onto the usually solemn legislative floors.

Richard Barnett, a supporter of US President Donald Trump sits inside the office of US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as he protest inside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 6, 2021 (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

Security forces fired tear gas in a four-hour operation to clear the Capitol and police said at least one person was shot and killed, reportedly a female Trump partisan from California. DC police said three others died in “medical emergencies.”

Police said both law enforcement and Trump supporters deployed chemical irritants during the hours-long occupation of the Capitol building before it was cleared Wednesday evening by law enforcement.

Violent protesters, loyal to President Donald Trump, storm the Capitol, January 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The woman was shot earlier Wednesday as the mob tried to break through a barricaded door in the Capitol where police were armed on the other side. She was hospitalized with a gunshot wound and later died.

DC police officials also said two pipe bombs were recovered, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee. Police found a cooler from a vehicle that had a long gun and Molotov cocktail on Capitol grounds.

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