I used to be sitting contained in the Senate press gallery Wednesday afternoon, writing an electronic mail to the CBS Information bureau describing the occasions of the previous half hour of debate over objections to Arizona’s slate of electors, when Vice President Mike Pence was instantly and swiftly evacuated from the Senate chamber. I assumed it was for safety functions, given the crowds of rowdy demonstrators that had gathered exterior the constructing.
I shortly put collectively one other electronic mail for my editors letting them know that Pence had left, figuring it was a false alarm. However quickly, Senate gallery staffers have been shouting “lock the doorways,” and it was clear that the scenario was severe. Reporters have been ushered into the press gallery above the Senate chamber, and the doorways have been locked. We might hear the muffled sound of the rioters exterior.
Electronics aren’t allowed within the chamber, however I had introduced my laptop computer and cellphone inside to let my editors know I used to be secure. Senators have been on their telephones, presumably calling family members, as law enforcement officials eyed the locked doorways. At one level, Senator Amy Klobuchar shouted that there had been photographs fired, urging her colleagues to avoid the doorways and take the scenario critically.
Immediately, senators started submitting out to be evacuated. Reporters have been initially caught within the gallery on the third ground overlooking the chamber. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker referred to as as much as the reporters on the balcony, asking how we have been doing. I laughed, most likely with a tinge of hysteria. “We’re doing nice,” I referred to as again down.
Reporters have been shuffled out of the chamber and guided by Capitol law enforcement officials alongside the senators to a safe location after the Senate went into recess.
Minutes later, protesters would stream into the chamber, posing for selfies at lawmakers’ desks and within the nicely of the chamber. Thankfully, as senators and workers have been evacuating, one quick-thinking Senate aide had the presence of thoughts to take the Electoral Faculty ballots with them, Senator Tammy Duckworth later informed CBS Information.
We have been in a safe location for a number of hours. Shortly earlier than 5 p.m., Capitol staffers wheeled in trays of food and drinks for lawmakers and the reporters sitting within the anteroom exterior of the place the senators have been gathered. I sat on the ground, charged my telephone, and puzzled what would occur subsequent.
At one level, Senator Ted Cruz emerged from the room crammed with senators. A reporter requested him if he felt any duty for the day’s occasions, given his help for objecting to the Electoral Faculty outcomes. Cruz didn’t reply, however turned and walked again into the room.
We have been allowed to return to the Capitol shortly earlier than 7 p.m. I walked down the corridor within the Senate subway, instantly behind staffers carrying the bins crammed with Electoral Faculty ballots.
It felt surreal to reenter the Senate chamber and watch debate resume. The ambiance within the chamber was somber and heavy, laden with data that at this time wouldn’t be quickly forgotten. Vice President Mike Pence’s remarks have been greeted with a standing ovation from either side of the aisle.
Finally, the Senate voted towards the objections to the Arizona depend 93-6.
The voting continued into the evening, with yet one more objection — to Pennsylvania’s outcomes — that finally failed. At 3:38 a.m., Wyoming’s outcomes have been confirmed and Pence introduced President-elect Joe Biden’s victory at 3:40 a.m.