Congress finalizes Biden's win after riot disrupts Capitol

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Melissa Mahtani, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 5:15 p.m. ET, January 7, 2021
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3:35 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

US Capitol on lockdown after escalating situation among demonstrators

From Ted Barrett and Manu Raju 

John Minchillo/AP
John Minchillo/AP

The US Capitol is on lockdown during a tense situation with demonstrators outside the building, according to Capitol police officers.

A CNN employee tried to leave the building and couldn’t because police said the building is on lockdown. 

Congress is currently in session to count and certify the Electoral College votes for president and vice president.

5:24 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

With no evidence, Sen. Ted Cruz objects to Arizona's electoral votes

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury, Manu Raju, Lauren Fox and Jeremy Herb

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz objected to Arizona's electoral votes, despite no evidence supporting claims of voting irregularities and fraud.

Cruz is leading the efforts by some GOP lawmakers in objecting to electoral results from battleground states where President-elect Joe Biden won.

"Let me be clear, I'm not arguing for setting aside the election," Cruz said. Instead Cruz appealed to both Democrats and Republicans to opt for Congress to create an electoral commission, similar to one that was used in the 1876 election.

"Five house members, five senators, five supreme court justices, examined the evidence and rendered a judgment. And what I would urge of this body is that we do the same. That we appoint an electoral commission to conduct a 10 day emergency audit. Consider the evidence and resolve the claims. For those on the democratic aisle who say there is no evidence they've been rejected, then you should rest in comfort if that's the case, an electoral commission would reject those claims," Cruz said.

Cruz ended his remarks by urging his colleagues to not take "the easy path, but instead act together, astonish the viewers and act in a bipartisan sense to say we will have a credible and fair tribunal, consider the facts, consider the claims, consider the evidence."

Remember: There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and there is no evidence that electors from the electoral college were fraudulently chosen, as all states have certified their elections. 

The objections during today's formal count of electoral votes from all 50 states and the District of Columbia will not change the results of the election. Every Democrat and some Republicans will reject the challenges in both chambers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

1:58 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Schumer: A peaceful transition of power is extolled by "children in the second grade but not by some here"

From CNN's Aditi Sangal


Criticizing GOP objections to Arizona's electoral results, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said a peaceful transition of power "is extolled by school children in the second grade but not by some here."

He added:

"As we speak, the eyes of the world are on this chamber questioning whether America is still the shining example of democracy, the shining city on the hill. What message will we send today to our people, to the world that has so looked up to us for centuries? What message will we send to fledgling democracies who study our constitution, mirror our laws and traditions in the hopes that they, too, can build a country ruled by the consent of the governed."
2:06 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

McConnell: Senate has a “higher calling than an endless spiral of partisan vengeance”

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the "United States Senate has a higher calling than an endless spiral of partisan vengeance" as he dismissed GOP lawmakers’ challenge to Electoral College results. 

McConnell warned against actions that would “guarantee the delegitimatizing efforts after 2016 is a permanent, new routine for both sides.”

“Framers built the Senate to stop short-term passions from boiling over and melting the foundations of our republic. So I believe protecting our constitutional order requires respecting the limits of our own power. It would be unfair and wrong to disenfranchise American voters and overrule the courts and the states on this extraordinarily thin basis,” he added.

McConnell closed with this statement: “I will vote to respect the people's decision and defend our system of government as we know it.”


2:06 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Schumer on Republicans objecting to electoral votes: "They will lose. They know that."


Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said those lawmakers who are objecting to Electoral College votes are "in the minority" and "will lose."

"The American people elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to be the next President and Vice President of the United States. And yet, a number of our colleagues have organized an effort to undermine and object to that free and fair election. They are in the minority. They will lose. They know that," he said.

He added, "They are going to object to the counting of the vote any way. And in the process they will embarrass themselves, they will embarrass their party, and worst of all they will embarrass their country."

Schumer said that Congress does not determine the outcome of elections — "the people do."

"They have no evidence of widespread voter fraud upon which to base their objections," Schumer said.


1:47 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

McConnell: If election were overturned due to mere allegations, our democracy would enter a "death spiral"

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cautioned against overturning the election results due to "mere allegations" from the other side. He said if that happened, "We'd never see the whole nation accept an election again."

"Every four years would be a scramble for power. At any cost. The electoral college, which most of us on this side have been defending for years would cease to exist. Leaving many of our states with no real say at all in choosing the President. The effects would go even beyond the elections themselves. Self government, my colleagues, requires a shared commitment to the truth and a shared respect for the ground rules of our system," McConnell said.
1:52 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

McConnell: If we overrule voters, "it would damage our republic forever"

From CNN's Aditi Sangal


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in his remarks during the Senate debate on Arizona's electoral results said failing to certifying the results "would damage our republic forever."

"The Constitution gives us here in Congress a limited role. We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on steroids. Voters, courts, states have all spoken. They've all spoken. If we overrule them it would damage our republic forever," he said Wednesday.


3:31 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

Police are evacuating the House Cannon office building and James Madison building on Capitol Hill

From CNN's Phil Mattingly Manu Raju and Lauren Fox

The US Capitol Police have ordered staff to evacuate House Cannon building and the James Madison Memorial Building which is part of the Library of Congress. No further information at this time beyond it’s needed due to police activity, per multiple sources.

USCP sent an alert to staff alert to staff about a suspicious package in the 300 Block of First Street SE, advising staff to avoid the area.

Read the alert:

The USCP is continuing to investigate a Suspicious Package in the 300 Block of First Street SE. Staff and other personnel are directed to AVOID THIS AREA until further notice.
The following road closures are in effect due to the investigation: The following road closures are in effect due to the investigation:
-First Street between C and D Streets SE
-New Jersey Avenue between Ivy and D Streets SE
-D Street between New Jersey Avenue and Second Street SE
2:02 p.m. ET, January 6, 2021

McConnell: No proof before us of illegality on "massive scale" that would have "tipped the entire election"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed President Trump's allegations of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election, saying:

"Every election we know features some illegality and irregularity and of course that's unacceptable. I support strong state-led voting reforms. Last year's bizarre pandemic procedures must not become the new norm. But my colleagues, nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale, the massive scale that would have tipped the entire election. Nor can public doubt alone justify a radical break when the doubt itself was incited without any evidence."

"We cannot simply declare ourselves a national board of elections on the voters, the courts, when all states have all spoken," he continued.

"They've all spoken. If we overrule them it would damage our republic forever. This election actually was not unusually close. Just in recent history, 2000 and 2004 were all closer than this one. The electoral college margin is almost identical to what it was in 2016," he continued.

McConnell noted in his remarks that he supported Trump's "right to use the legal system."

"Dozens of lawsuits received hearings in courtrooms all across our country. But over and over, the courts rejected these claims including all-star judges whom the President himself has nominated," he said.