Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler on Wednesday voted to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, reversing course the day after her bruising loss in one of two Georgia runoffs that cost her party the Senate and hours after President Donald Trump urged a mob of armed far-right insurrectionists to storm the U.S. Capitol.
“When I arrived in Washington this morning I fully intended to object to the certification of the electoral votes,” Loeffler said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “However, the events that have transpired today have forced me to reconsider, and I cannot, now, in good conscience, object to the certification.”
In the 36 hours ahead of Loeffler’s arrival in Washington, she announced she would back a growing effort within her party to block certification of Biden’s win. She appeared alongside Trump at a rally ahead of the Tuesday elections, where the president offered Loeffler fleeting praise but spent the majority of his time fuming that already unsubstantiated claims of election fraud cost him the White House.
By Wednesday morning, both Loeffler and fellow Georgia senatorial candidate David Perdue had lost to their Democratic rivals. The president then urged a group of his hard-core supporters protesting his loss in front of the White House to march to the Capitol.
In mid-afternoon, the protest at the Capitol turned into a mob, with armed insurrectionists pushing past barriers and breaking windows to enter the Capitol — all as lawmakers were in session to vote on certification of the 2020 election. With senators and representatives sheltered in place, rioters rifled through offices and took paperwork. One woman who was there was shot and killed. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a 6 p.m. curfew for the nation’s capital.
The events at the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon rattled lawmakers from both parties. Heading into the typically perfunctory certification vote, Democrats had already been united in support; Republicans had been split, including the party’s women lawmakers, with Trump’s most fervent backers joining in opposition. By evening, as lawmakers returned to resume the process after the Capitol was secured, some opposed Republicans reversed course.
In her own statement on the floor, Loeffler lamented “the violence, the lawlessness, the siege on the halls of Congress,” and added, “I pray America never suffers such a dark day again.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, who signed a letter on Saturday calling for further investigation into claims of election fraud before certification of the results, called the rioting “despicable” and said in a terse statement on Twitter that she too would now “vote in support of certifying the election results.”
Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming were the only Republican woman — there are currently 9 Republican women in the Senate — who objected to the results of the 2020 presidential election. Hyde-Smith objected to Arizona. Lummis objected to Pennsylvania.
In the House, at least 11 Republican women said in the buildup to the vote that they would oppose certification. Ultimately, 17 — more than half of their ranks in the 435-seat chamber — did:
- Debbie Lesko of Arizona
- Lauren Boebert of Colorado
- Kat Cammack of Florida
- Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia
- Mary Miller of Illinois
- Jackie Walorski of Indiana
- Lisa McClain of Michigan
- Michelle Fischbach of Minnesota
- Vicky Hartzler of Missouri
- Virginia Foxx of North Carolina
- Yvette Herrell of New Mexico
- Nicole Malliotakis of New York
- Elise Stefanik of New York
- Stephanie Bice of Oklahoma
- Diana Harshbarger of Tennessee
- Beth Van Duyne of Texas
- Carol Miller of West Virginia
After the violence, at least one, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, a former member of House Republican leadership who had previously opposed certification, changed her mind. “What happened today and continues to unfold in the nation’s capital is disgraceful and un-American,” she said in a statement.
No Republican women in either chamber who initially supported certification voted to oppose it.
“There is no question that the President formed the mob, the President incited the mob, the President addressed the mob. He lit the flame,” Rep. Liz Cheney wrote on Twitter. The Wyoming lawmaker was elected to be House Republican Conference Chair after McMorris Rogers, and is the only woman currently in the party’s leadership ranks.
This story has been updated.