Two years after the January 6 Uprising, a stalled House Speaker vote paralyzes Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — Such are the divisions in the country, between political parties and within the Republican Party itself, that one of Washington’s time-honored specialties — memorializing and uniting efforts over national trauma — is not what it used to be.

Friday’s minute of silence at the Capitol commemorating the attack on him on January 6, 2021, was expected to draw a mostly Democrat crowd.

Several Republicans were expected at the White House at a ceremony where President Joe Biden would award Presidential Citizens Medals to a dozen state and local officials, election officials, and police officers for their “exemplary deeds of service to their country or their fellow citizens.” in maintaining the results of the 2020 election and fighting the Capitol Mafia.

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All of this is a far cry from September 11, 2001, when lawmakers frantically evacuating the Capitol during a terrorist attack gathered there later that day in a moment of silence and proclaimed “God Bless America,” Republicans and Democrats shoulder to shoulder.

“They stood shocked and in tears on the steps of the Capitol, their love for the nation and all that it stands for was evident to the whole world,” an Australian newspaper reported in an extract now reflected in the official history of the House of Representatives.

Today the world sees a different picture: the unrest in American democracy comes from an institution that was taken over by rebels two years ago.

The country’s legislature is once again paralyzed – this time not by violence, but by a painful struggle between the Republicans over who should lead them and the House itself as speaker.

Of course, a resolution to the current crisis may be close as the GOP leadership continues to negotiate to appease its far right, but there are questions about the House’s ability to manage even the most important laws, such as funding the government and meeting with Parliament. country’s debt obligations.

FILE – Violent rebels loyal to President Donald Trump storm the Capitol Wednesday, January 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/John Mincillo, file)(John Mincillo / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Biden, in his afternoon speech, will tell stories of heroism, whether in the face of a brutal Capitol crowd or a furious horde of Donald Trump-inspired agitators who threatened poll workers or otherwise sought to overturn the results. He will call for unity.

But the Democratic president cannot ignore the troubling signs that it could happen again.

In the interim, candidates who denied the results of a free and fair 2020 election were defeated in many key statewide election control positions in battlefield states, as were a number of opponents of the election vying for seats in Congress.

However, many lawmakers who made baseless allegations of electoral fraud or apologized for the Jan. 6 violence are still in office and given new powers.

Trump’s 2024 candidacy has been slowly moving forward, but his battle chest is full, and some would-be rivals in the race for the Republican presidential nomination have filed false claims about the 2020 race.

In addition, several lawmakers who at the time echoed his comments about the stolen election are playing a central role in efforts to thwart Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s ascension to the Speaker’s seat — by not falling for Trump’s calls from afar to support him and end the fight.

The protracted struggle leaves the House of Representatives leaderless, unable to pass bills, and powerless to do more than vote after vote for the speaker until a majority is reached. Everything from national security briefings to helping their constituents manage the federal bureaucracy is on hold because elected members cannot yet take the oath.

Some Democrats have seen a through line since Jan. 6.

Christian leaders gather for prayer vigil on the occasion of the second anniversary of...
Christian leaders gather for a prayer vigil to commemorate the second anniversary of the violent uprising by supporters of then President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington on Friday, January 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)(Matt Rourke / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The chaos in the speaker’s election “is related to the destruction of the institution in a different way,” said Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, one of the lawmakers who fled the rioters two years ago.

The rebels then lured some of the legislators into a trap in the chamber of the House of Representatives, but never broke it. That day, they delayed the national business for hours.

Now some feel trapped in the same house due to repeated fruitless votes for Speaker – 11 votes so far – and House cases are adjourned for this week and counted.

“The flow of succession here is extremism, elements of Trumpism, norms don’t matter,” says Democratic Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois. “This is not about governing, but about preaching and defending an extremist point of view.”

Democratic Rep. Annie Custer of New Hampshire said, “This is a very small minority that wants to plunge this institution into chaos.”

After a poor midterm election for Trump’s allies, the House committee investigating the January 6 attack concluded its work with a recommendation to the Justice Department to bring the former president to justice. Special Counsel and, ultimately, Attorney General Merrick Garland will now decide whether he should be charged.

Although congressional investigations have been completed, criminal cases are still ongoing, both against the 950 arrested and charged with violent assault, and against Trump and his associates, who remain under investigation. The second trial of a rebel conspiracy against members of the far-right group Proud Boys begins this week.

In a measured but significant move, Congress in December amended the Electoral Count Act to limit the vice president’s role in the electoral vote count, to make it harder for individual legislators to raise objections to properly validated election results and to exclude “false voters.” like those deployed by Trump’s allies in an attempt to undo his defeat by Biden.

After all this, Biden, who has made it his mission to prove to the world that democracy can benefit its citizens, dared to hope that this was “the first time we’ve really sorted out the whole issue regarding the events of January 2019.” 6. Everything is getting better.”

But then a fight for the speaker began, rare in the annals of Congress.

“And now, for the first time in 100 years, we can’t move? Biden said earlier this week. – It’s not beautiful. This is not good”.

“Listen,” he continued, “how do you think it looks to the rest of the world?”

Will Rogers’ eternal joke – “I’m not a member of any organized political party. I’m a Democrat” now looks dated and out of place. The Democrats voted unanimously for their new House leader, Rep. Hakim Jeffreys of New York, moving seamlessly from Nancy Pelosi.

Two years after January 6 and Trump’s subsequent departure, the Republicans, the party for which standing in line the longest used to mean victory, are now the party of factions and unrest.


Associated Press contributor Colleen Long contributed to this report.

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