Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday announced that there would be a review of security protocols after a group of protestors stormed into the U.S. Capitol disrupting Congress’s joint session on Wednesday.
“Yesterday represented a massive failure of institutions, protocols, and planning that are supposed to protect the first branch of our federal government,” McConnell said in a statement. “A painstaking investigation and thorough review must now take place and significant changes must follow.”
He added that initial bipartisan discussions have commenced in congressional committees of oversight and congressional leadership.
On Wednesday, a group of rioters breached the Capitol building after breaking windows to enter as lawmakers were sitting during a joint session to count Electoral College votes. The mayhem on Capitol grounds led to four deaths—three which were medical related—and dozens of police officers injured.
In a struggle to get control of the situation, police began evacuating some congressional office buildings, while some lawmakers were asked to shelter in place. The commotion finally ended when U.S. Capitol police begun dispersing protesters by deploying tear gas and percussion grenades. Protesters also left due to a citywide curfew that began at 6 p.m.
The chaos forced both houses of Congress to suspend the session, which delayed the Electoral College counting process for several hours.
Workers begin to clean up the debris and damage caused by protestors at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington on Jan. 7, 2021. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
“I salute and applaud those front-line U.S. Capitol Police officers who stood bravely in harm’s way during yesterday’s failed insurrection,” McConnell said in his statement. “We are praying today for those who sustained injuries, some serious, in the line of duty. Congress is also deeply grateful to the local officers from D.C., Virginia, and Maryland, the federal law enforcement personnel, the National Guard, and all the other professionals who deployed to help subdue the criminals and retake the Capitol.”
After Congress convened to count the remainder of the electoral votes, which had stalled during a debate over Arizona’s votes, lawmakers took the opportunity to decry the violence. Democrats and several Republicans were quick to blame President Donald Trump for the civil unrest.
“The ultimate blame for yesterday lies with the unhinged criminals who broke down doors, trampled our nation’s flag, fought with law enforcement, and tried to disrupt our democracy, and with those who incited them,” McConnell said.
“But this fact does not and will not preclude our addressing the shocking failures in the Capitol’s security posture and protocols,” he added.
A group of protesters gather inside the U.S. Capitol building in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Some lawmakers have also turned their attention to the security officials at the U.S. Capitol. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement to media outlets that he would fire Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger when Democrats take control of the Senate later this month.
“If Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Stenger hasn’t vacated the position by then, I will fire him as soon as Democrats have a majority in the Senate,” Schumer said.
Following the incident, President-elect Joe Biden condemned the protests, characterizing them as an “insurrection” that was “bordering on sedition.”
Meanwhile, Trump called for peace and urged the protesters to go home. In a statement on Thursday, White House press secretary Kaleigh McEnany condemned the violence.
“The violence we saw yesterday at our nation’s capital was appalling, reprehensible, and antithetical to the American way. We condemn it, the president and this administration, in the strongest possible terms,” McEnany said.
Following the joint session that ended after 3 a.m. local time, Congress certified the Electoral College votes for Biden. Trump subsequently released a statement promising an orderly transition on Jan. 20.