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With Capitol Grounds Cleared, Congress Will Attempt To Resume Electoral Count

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The biggest story today in a day of big stories - an insurrection of pro-Trump extremists forced their way into the U.S. Capitol this afternoon. All of this while Congress was in session to certify the results of the presidential election. With the Capitol now cleared, Congress will try to resume that process, and NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales joins us now with the latest.

Hey, Claudia.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hi there.

CHANG: All right. So Congress has been told that the Capitol is apparently secured now. Tell us, what are the next steps?

GRISALES: So congressional leaders and rank-and-file members say they are all prepared to get back to the business at hand that was disrupted by these violent protesters. Now, we have to note that there are still questions on how quickly they can resume, considering that not only did these mobs need to be cleared, but anything that was left behind needs to be addressed. They rummaged through offices. It's not clear how much damage was left behind that could impact the proceedings. But overall, members are saying they want to get back to their business, and they may have to go all night to get it done.

CHANG: Right. I mean, as we said, this happened when Congress was gathered to certify the results of the presidential election. Have you received any indication of when members will actually return? Will they return to resume these proceedings, like, at what hour today? Do we know?

GRISALES: Yes. There's been estimates that they could try and come back as early as the 8:00 p.m. hour or 9:00 p.m. hour. We're still expecting to get some updates there. An aide to Vice President Pence has told NPR - has announced on Twitter that Pence never left the Capitol. He's been in regular contact with congressional leaders, Capitol Police, Justice and Defense officials to secure the Capitol. And now they will finish the people's business. House majority leader - the House leaders as well have notified their colleagues - this includes Steny Hoyer of Maryland - that they are advised that as soon as the sergeant of arms for the House confirms that Capitol building is safe and secure, they're expected to reconvene and resume debate on what was happening at that moment that was disrupted, which was objections to the result of electoral votes for Arizona.

CHANG: Right. Many, many objections were expected today, which is what would have stretched out this process for a very, very long time. Where do these various Republican members who are prepared to make these many objections, where do they stand now? Are they still sticking with their plans? What do you know?

GRISALES: Well, we haven't heard from a lot of them. And we need to note that more than 100 House Republicans and a dozen GOP senators said they planned to object. We've seen at least one House member, Republican Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, say she's reversing course after the events of today. Yeah, she said in a video statement that basically is - as these events unfolded in the nation's capital, she said they were disgraceful and un-American. And she said, shame on these folks for this. And she said they must have a peaceful transfer of power. The government must have a peaceful transfer of power. And so she said her only reason for her objection was to give voice to the concern that others had raised about this vote - election. But after what she had seen today - it was unlawful, unacceptable - she decided she will vote to uphold the results, and she encouraged President Trump to condemn what happened today.

We also heard from Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. He had said he had planned to give a speech today saying that overturning the election result would lead to chaos. After some meetings among members as they have been in seclusion, he said he thinks that they're likely going to see those objections come down perhaps just to the state of Arizona, and we may not see additional objections tonight. So it's very possible that they could wrap this up quickly now.

CHANG: Wow, such a sudden turn of events - that is NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales.

Thank you so much, Claudia.

GRISALES: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.