Jan 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Congress certifies Joe Biden's Electoral College win

A view of the House chamber as they hold a joint session to certify Joe Biden's win

The House reconvenes Wednesday night for the joint session after pro-Trump mobs stormed the Capitol. Photo: Saul Loeb - Pool/Getty Images

A joint session of Congress ended a day of siege by officially certifying on Thursday President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win in the November election, the final step ahead of his Jan. 20 inauguration.

The bottom line: The final votes in Congress confirm that Biden will be the 46th president of the United States—despite some Republican lawmakers' challenges and the rampage through the Capitol by supporters of President Trump.

The big picture: The vote came hours after the typically procedural process was disrupted by mass chaos, with armed, pro-Trump rioters storming the Capitol, forcing House and Senate lawmakers into lockdowns that lasted hours.

  • The day's violent events impeded several Republicans' plans to challenge the Electoral College votes in battleground states.
  • Some House and Senate Republicans had planned to object to the Electoral College votes in at least three states: Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania — with an additional three on the table.
  • But the objectors only made it to Arizona and Pennsylvania, with several Republican lawmakers giving up their challenges after the protests erupted inside the Capitol.

Trump in a statement released after Congress officially affirmed Biden's victory pledged an "orderly transition on January 20th."

Between the lines: Although we knew from the start that the certification debate wouldn't change the election results, the day's events revealed how much work needs to be done to heal the country.

  • The Republicans who sought to object to the election results succeeded in shaking many Americans' confidence in their democracy, especially among those who believe Biden's presidency is illegitimate.
  • It also drew battle lines for the 2024 GOP presidential primary, and put a target on many pro-Trump dissenters who refused to take part in undermining Biden's victory.

Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the proceedings and ultimately announced that Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris had received the required majority votes, is a top target.

  • His declaration —in which he fulfilled his constitutional duty — went directly against Trump's high-pressure campaign to overturn the election results.

What's next: The House and Senate will recess at the end of this week through the inauguration.

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