About one month after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, The 19th reached out to all 143 women in the 117th Congress to ask about their experiences on January 6. Twenty-three shared their points of view from that day. We are also publishing each lawmaker’s full account of that day. Here is what Rep. Kathleen Rice of New York told The 19th. The transcript has been lightly edited:
I live with a colleague of mine, and the day before we brought work clothes in the office and left them in the office. We did not want to come into the office and be seen or recognized. We came incognito in workout clothes and no pin. Most people were working from home. I didn’t want any of my staff in the Capitol complex.
So I spent most of the morning in my office and at one point, I walked over to a colleague’s office with a House colleague of mine and ended up in an office in the basement of the Capitol right by where the rioters broke in. A guard said we should not be over there and practically pushed us into an open office and said to stay put. We were there 10 to 15 minutes before the breach.
We shut the door, didn’t make any noise and put the chair against the door. We put the TV on with no noise. I was barricaded in an office with a colleague just one floor below where the rioters broke in on the west side. For about an hour, it sounded like there was a herd of elephants smashing through windows and making all this noise. We spent the next four or five hours in that room, just waiting for them to get control of the Capitol.
Oh my God, I mean there were insurrectionists in the building and they were pounding on doors, trying to bust doors down. I was petrified, I didn’t know where they were going. I didn’t realize that some of them had maps, how to get to certain offices, get to the House and Senate floor. I’m forever grateful to the Capitol Police for taking us.
My colleague and I were still in the office watching the TV; the sounds of the rioters had quieted as they moved toward the chambers. An officer eventually came to get us. The Capitol Police had set up a water eye-rinsing station nearby to flush the rioters’ pepper spray out. We ran for nearly 15 minutes through the basement tunnels. We didn’t see any rioters, but at one point, the officer told me to take my shoes off, because we had to run faster. It was just horrifying.
We still heard the rioters, but we did not see any in the tunnel system. I think most of the rioters were upstairs trying to get onto the floors of the House and Senate. I guess I felt safe once I was in the room with all the senators. They brought water bottles. Of course, some members were not wearing masks. Then we went to the floor and voted.
The days that followed, as I kept watching more of the video, I got angrier and angrier as we got further from the event. It was so predictable that this could happen. It was very, very upsetting to me after we finally took control of the Capitol that a lot of Republicans got up and continued to push the big lie. It was just horrifying. It seems so surreal. I never imagined that this could have happened. It’s just unbelievable that this could happen in our country. It’s just unbelievable. And the [former] president of the United States was sitting in the Oval Office and no one — not even his kids — were not able to get through to him to call off the mob. This was just an incredibly sad day, certainly one of the saddest in my life.