As a mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday causing the nation’s elected officials to evacuate, state and local lawmakers reacted to the protests in Washington, D.C., which left four people dead.
“Sheer size of the crowd in D.C. is emblematic of how divided we are,” tweeted State Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, of Hempfield Township. “We can disagree without violence. Violence wasn’t OK when groups were destroying property last summer: it’s not OK now. We are a country of laws and without laws, we are doomed. I pray this stops and no one gets hurt.”
In a joint statement, Speaker of the House Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, and House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Center/Mifflin, said they “strongly condemn any act of violence and destruction” that took place Wednesday.
“Peaceful transitions of power are something our country has responsibly proceeded with since our founding and should serve as an inspiration to the rest of the world,” the statement read.
“An objection to the electoral process is within the rights of members of Congress and has been exercised by members from both sides of the aisle at different times in our nation’s history. However, that process leads to debate and dialogue, not violence and mayhem.”
Leaders of Pennsylvania’s state Senate Republican majority asked Republicans in Congress to delay the certification of the Electoral College, in what turned out to be a failed effort by Republicans to undo Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state. The letter, dated Monday, was signed by Ward, state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman and 19 other Republican state senators.
Eight Republican members of Congress from Pennsylvania said that they would oppose the state’s electoral votes being cast Wednesday for Biden, but Congress early this morning rejected the attempt from Republicans to overturn the will of Pennsylvania voters, effectively ending a final attempt to overturn Trump’s loss in the state, according to the New York Times.
Those eight joined dozens of other Republicans around the country whom Trump had enlisted to challenge the Electoral College vote that confirmed Biden’s 306-232 win this morning after Congress convened in a joint session.
The House rejected the challenge by a 282-138 vote after a long debate dragged past 3 a.m. in Washington. A scuffle almost broke out on the chamber floor after state Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Mt. Lebanon, delivered an impassioned speech in condemnation of the Republican objections.
“That attack today, it didn’t materialize out of nowhere,” Lamb said. “It was inspired by lies, the same lies you’re hearing in this room tonight, and the members who are repeating those lies should be ashamed of themselves.”
State Rep. John Joyce, R-Blair County, spoke in support of the objection to the certification of Pennsylvania’s electors on the House floor.
“My heart is heavy as we consider the dark acts that transpired in this institution today,” Joyce said in a prepared statement. “But, Madam Speaker, the American people can be assured that violent and irrational attacks on this body cannot derail the Constitutional responsibility that lies in front of us. … We must acknowledge that unconstitutional acts unduly impacted the presidential election in Pennsylvania.”
The Senate, too, rejected the Republican challenge by a vote of 92 to 7.
“I rise tonight to defend the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to defend the more than 6.9 million voters who voted in this election, and to condemn in the strongest possible terms this attempt to disenfranchise the voters of Pennsylvania based upon a lie — a falsehood,” Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, said on the Senate floor. “That same lie sowed the seeds of today’s violence and today’s lawlessness here in the capitol.”
Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, a Democrat, reacted to the violence at the Capitol, calling for protesters to end the “violent insurrection” and the “reprehensible incitement of it by President Trump” which took place Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
“Our future is supposed to be better than the darkest days of our past, and it will be again,” he said in a statement. “This should never have happened. All American leaders at all levels of government should do everything they can to put a stop to it, resolve that we will never allow it to happen again, and reclaim our identity as a constitutional democracy that is better than this disgraceful scene.”
Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairwoman Nancy Patton Mills echoed Torsella’s sentiment in a statement on Wednesday’s violence in the nation’s capital.
“This is a heartbreaking day for our whole country,” she said. “Violent extremists, spurred onward by President Trump and his enablers, have attacked our sacred democracy and our Congress. We know this is not who we are, and we cannot allow this repugnant behavior to continue to infect our politics.”
The Diocese of Greensburg’s Bishop-elect Larry J. Kulick weighed in on the violence that broke out in Washington, D.C.
“I was deeply saddened to hear about the events at the U.S. Capitol. Today, political strife and uncertainty became painfully real. Violence was thrust upon our nation and our people,” Kulick said. “Violence is never an answer to any challenge nor can it be condoned in any form. We must use respectful dialogue to connect with one another and resolve our differences.
“I urge the faithful to join me in prayer asking for God’s divine strength and courage that unity and peace prevail.”
This story includes information from the Associated Press.