Dear Commons Community,
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell opened the Senate yesterday saying the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol was “fed lies” by the president and others in the deadly riot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s election.
McConnell’s remarks are his most severe and public rebuke of outgoing President Donald Trump. The Republican leader vowed a “safe and successful” inauguration of Biden on Wednesday at the Capitol, which is under extremely tight security. As reported by the Associated Press.
“The mob was fed lies,” McConnell said. “They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of a branch of the federal government.”
McConnell said: “We’ll move forward.”
Trump’s last full day in office yesterday was also the senators’ first day back since the deadly Capitol siege, an unparalleled time of transition as the Senate presses ahead to his impeachment trial and starts confirmation hearings on President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet.
Three new Democratic senators-elect are set to be sworn into office today shortly after Biden’s inauguration at the Capitol, which is under extreme security since the bloody pro-Trump riot. The new senators’ arrival will give the Democrats a most slim majority, a 50-50 divided Senate chamber, with the new vice president, Kamala Harris, swearing them in and serving as an eventual tie-breaking vote.
The start of the new session of Congress will force senators to come to terms with the post-Trump era, a transfer of power like almost none other in the nation’s history. Senators are returning to a Capitol shattered from the riot, but also a Senate ground to a halt by the lawmakers’ own extreme partisanship.
Republican senators, in particular, face a daunting choice of whether to convict Trump of inciting the insurrection, the first impeachment trial of a president no longer in office, in a break with the defeated president who continues to hold great sway over the party but whose future is uncertain. Senators are also being asked to start confirming Biden’s Cabinet nominees and consider passage of a sweeping new $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.
In opening remarks at his confirmation hearing, Biden’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, vowed to get to the bottom of the “horrifying” attack on the Capitol.
Mayorkas told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that if confirmed he would do everything possible to ensure “the desecration of the building that stands as one of the three pillars of our democracy, and the terror felt by you, your colleagues, staff, and everyone present, will not happen again.”
Trump’s impeachment is forcing Republican senators to re-evaluate their relationship with the outgoing president who is charged with inciting a mob of supporters to storm the Capitol as Congress was counting the Electoral College votes to confirm Biden’s election. A protester died during the riot and a police officer died later of injuries; three other people involved died of medical emergencies.
The House impeached Trump last week on a sole charge, incitement of insurrection, making him the only president to be twice impeached. He had been impeached in 2019 over relations with Ukraine and was acquitted in 2020 by the Senate.
Three Democratic senators, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia, and Alex Padilla of California, are to be sworn into office today.
Warnock and Ossoff defeated Republican incumbents in this month’s runoff elections. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to fill the remainder of Harris’ Senate term.
The next several weeks will be a most interesting time in the Senate!