Republican Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler abandoned her plans to contest the certification of some Electoral College votes for President-Elect Joe Biden on Wednesday night, citing the “siege” on the Capitol building by supporters of President Donald Trump ahead of Congress’ count.
But Loeffler was not alone. The unrest, which included the Senate chamber being breached and left one person fatally shot, caused more than one Republican member to change their minds on challenging the results of the election.
What are the details?
Loeffler vowed Monday during a rally that Trump attended to contest the election results. She said in a separate statement that she would issue her own challenge outside of a coalition of 11 other Republicans organized by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. On Tuesday, Loeffler lost her re-election bid to Democratic challenger Rev. Raphael Warnock.
On Wednesday, Trump supporters assembled for a “Save America March” in Washington, D.C., in protest of the election that the president claims was “rigged” against him. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani called for “trial by combat” to the crowd, and the president himself said he would march to the Capitol with his supporters but did not do so.
Upon reaching the Capitol, protesters were able to bypass the police and work their way into the building, breaching the Senate chamber. One Trump supporter died after being shot trying to climb through a window into the House chamber.
Protesters were eventually dispersed from the building and Congress resumed its work, but some Republicans had a different perspective upon their return.
“When I arrived in Washington this morning, I fully intended to object to the certification of the electoral votes,” Loeffler said when she addressed the Senate. “However, the events that transpired today have forced me to reconsider.
“I cannot now in good conscience object to the certification of these electors,” she continued, “the violence, the lawlessness, and siege of the halls of Congress are abhorrent and stand as a direct attack on the very institution my objection was intended to protect: the sanctity of the American democratic process.”
Who else reversed course?
At least 14 Republicans went on the record ahead of Wednesday saying that they would contest the Electoral College results in Congress, but a number of them reversed course along with Loeffler. According to The Washington Post, Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) also stood down after previously vowing to join the challenge.
So did steadfast Trump supporter Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who declared on Twitter that she would “vote in support of certifying the electoral college results” after being a part of Cruz’s original coalition.
She also tweeted, “To the protestors that have breached the Capitol building: you are disrupting the democratic process. You should be ashamed of yourself. This is violence. This is a crime. It must stop.”
But other Republicans are sticking with their plans, including Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri who was the first senator to announce he would contest the electoral results.
Hawley spokesperson Kelli Ford told The Hill following the Capitol chaos, “Senator Hawley spoke during the debate on the Arizona objection, but he will object to Pennsylvania once Congress returns to the joint session, and when the Senate and House go back to their chambers for the debate on Pennsylvania, he will yield his speaking time to move toward a vote.”
Hawley said from the Senate floor, “What we are doing here tonight is actually very important because for those who have concerns about the integrity of our elections, those who have concerns about what happened in November, this is the appropriate means, this is the lawful place where those objections and concerns should be heard.”