Live Updates: Congress Convenes to Confirm Joe Biden’s Electoral College Victory as Republicans Object

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have witnessed an impeachment trial, a global pandemic and an accompanying economic crisis this past year, but Jan. 6 may go down in history as the darkest day yet.
As they prepare Wednesday to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s clear victory over President Donald Trump, who has refused to concede, Republican lawmakers have turned what has long been a routine, Constitutionally-mandated to confirm states’ electoral counts into a pitched partisan loyalty test. More than 100 Republican Senators and Representatives are expected to raise objections to Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College victory, likely citing concerns over voter fraud—allegations that both Republican and Democratic election officials, as well as dozens of judges, have dismissed.

These challenges won’t change the outcome of the election, but they are nevertheless historical, serving to undermine the hallowed tradition of American democracy—the peaceful transition of power—while precipitating an internal crisis among Republicans, who have been forced to choose between the rule of law and expressing fidelity to the President.
The day’s political burlesque plays out as thousands of rightwing protesters descend on Washington, DC, and Republicans grapple with the likelihood of losing their majority in the Senate, following the Jan. 5 Georgia Senate race. —Alana Abramson
TIME is tracking all of these developments as they unfold. Updates below.
1:30 p.m. McConnell says rejecting Biden’s win amounts to a “death spiral” for American democracy
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave his strongest rebuke yet of his colleagues’ intent to challenge Biden’s victory, alleging that it would permanently damage the country’s democratic ideals. “We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids,” he said. “Voters, courts and the states have all spoken. If we overrule them we could damage our republic forever.”
As he spoke, footage of Trump supporters trying to break into the U.S. capitol were circulating on the internet, and lawmakers were tweeting that they were forced to evacuate their office buildings due to a threat. —A.A.
1:15 p.m. Republicans rise objections to electoral slate in Arizona
As expected, Republicans filed written objections to Arizona’s electoral votes. Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar filed the objection on behalf of sixty of his colleagues in the House of Representatives. He was joined by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
The Senate and House then broke up to debate the objections separately, as challengers argue for their position. While each chamber is technically allotted up to two hours of debate, lawmakers expect the sessions to take as long as four hours. —A.A.
12:53 p.m. Pence says he won’t challenge Biden’s victory
Just minutes before Congress convened for the joint session he will preside over, Pence officially announced that he would not challenge Biden’s Electoral College victory. “It is my considered judgement,” he wrote in a letter to Congress, “that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority from determining which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”
In recent days, Pence has been under tremendous pressure from Trump, who has publicly urged him to defy the Constitution and reject states’ electoral slates that would put Biden’s tally over the required 270 Electoral College votes. Under the Constitution, Pence’s role in this process is largely ceremonial. He opens the envelopes containing the slates of electors from each state and pronounces the victor. —A.A.
11:57 a.m. Trump rallies his supporters
Trump takes the stage at a rally at the Ellipse in Washington, DC. Speaking to tens of thousands of supporters, he claims, baselessly, that he won the 2020 Election and calls on Vice President Mike Pence, who as President of the Senate will preside over the joint session of Congress this afternoon, to impede Congressional certification of Biden’s win.
“If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election,” Trump said, erroneously. Pence does not have the unilateral power to prevent certification.
Trump also threatened to mount primary challenges against Republican lawmakers who don’t “fight” to prevent the certification of Biden’s victory. “History is going to be made,” Trump said. “We’re going to see whether or not we have great and courageous leaders, or whether or not we have leaders that should be ashamed of themselves.” —Tessa Berenson

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