Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. presided over a joint session of Congress Friday on Capitol Hill for the formal acceptance of the Electoral College results, officially making Donald J. Trump the next president, despite numerous protests from House Democrats and at least three outbursts from the visitors galleries.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D.-Md.) told Breitbart News he was happy with Biden‘s handling of the challenges, but he would have preferred it if the vice-president had allowed House Democrats to complete their statements as they objected to the tallies from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“He handled it correctly from a legal standpoint, I would preferred he gave more leeway to people stating what they were offering–not debating–but, what they were offering,” he said. Biden did not allow statements because the rules do not call for debate when making an objection. “My thought is that the vice-president wishes he could have done that, but he knew he could not do that.”
The proceedings began at 12:50 p.m., local time, when many senators walked en masse to the House chamber through a roped off corridor through Statuary Hall. Joining the senators were friends, family, and staff, who were all dressed up to witness not only the official tally of the 2016 presidential election, but also the last public act of the vice-president, who has been a member of the Senate, either as a senator or as the Senate President, since 1973.
Dozens of Senate pages carried the sealed tallies from when electors met Dec. 19 and with Biden at the rostrum, the actual votes were read off by two senators, Sen. Roy Blunt (R.-Mo.), the chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, and the committee’s Vice Chairwoman Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D.-Minn.); and two congressmen, Rep. Gregg Harper (R.-Miss.), the chairman of the House Administration Committee, and the committee’s ranking member Rep. Brady (D.-Pa.). After the votes were called out, House Democrats could then make their challenge, but the challenge could not be received until co-signed by a senator.
Sitting behind Biden was Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R.-Wis.), who walked over from this own office adjacent to Statuary Hall a few minutes before the march of the senators. Ryan did not have a speaking part, as this was Biden’s show, but he did break out a chuckle when the results for Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes for Donald J. Trump were challenged by Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D.-Texas).
Biden: For what purpose does the gentle lady from Texas rise?
Jackson-Lee: Mr. President, I object to the votes from the state of Wisconsin, which should not be legally certified–
Biden: Does the gentle lady have–does she (gavel) –please come to order. The chair has previously ruled that (gavel)–suspend! The gentlewoman will suspend (gavel). As the chair has previously ruled a signature of a senator is required. Is there such a signature?
Jackson-Lee: Mr. President, I do have a written document with my signature. I am seeking a senator (gavel). The Russians–(gavel).
Jackson-Lee told Breitbart News she and the House Democrats understood that Biden was following the rules, when he ordered them to suspend their statements, but they had to raise objections.
“I was tearful on the House floor today,” she said.
“It wasn’t so much about who the person was, it was just about how people felt that they were treated in this election process,” she said.
In addition to Wisconsin, House Democrats objected to at least six other states — sneaking in references to voter suppression and Russian interference before being gavelled down by Biden.
The one exchange that will be talked about for years to come was when Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), challenging the results from Georgia, continued to talk about the long lines of voters through Biden’s gavel. Finally, Biden used his command voice: “It’s over.”
The chamber was stunned into silence, but only for a moment when the Republicans rose up in applause–only to have Biden gavel them quiet, so that the tally could continue.
No states won by the Democratic nominee were challenged.
Wyoming was the last state to be called off and entered into the tally.
After Wyoming, Rep. Maxine Waters (D.-Calif.) rose to be recognized: “I do not wish to debate. I wish to ask is there one United States senator who will join me in a letter of objection? Just one?”
Of course, there were none, which ticked off Hoyer.
“I know a lot of our members tried to get a senator and they did not,” the Maryland congressman said, continuing:
If a senator had signed, we would have had a debate, two hours in the House, two hours in the Senate, on what in fact the Russians did to skew the election results. I guarantee ya’, had President Trump had gotten 2.8 million more votes than Hillary Clinton, had the Russians interfered in the election to help Hillary Clinton, those galleries would have been full of–with Trump leading the charge–of angry people, saying: ‘I want to look into the rigging of this election.’
A man who joined the Senate 12 years after Biden, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R.-Utah) told Breitbart News that Biden deserves great credit for the job he did presiding over the Electoral College tally.
“It has to be difficult for Vice President Biden, because naturally he wanted the election to go the other way,” he said.
“He did not disappoint me, he is a very fine fellow,” he said.
But, the senior senator said the barrage of objections from House Democrats were ridiculous.
“Once you understood that you had to have at least one senator, they should have sat down and been quiet,” he said.
“But, there is a lot of animosity around here, right now,” the senator said.
“Sometimes, … you gotta have them get it out of their system, so from that standpoint, I don’t have any problem with it.”