Congress reconvened Wednesday evening after protesters earlier in the day breached the U.S. Capitol building.
About six hours prior, the U.S. House and Senate temporarily halted Congress after protesters breached the Capitol building, interrupting concurrent debates in the two chambers over an objection to the counting of a slate of 11 presidential electors from Arizona for presidential candidate Joe Biden, a Democrat.
Upon resuming the session, Vice President Mike Pence condemned the violence.
“We condemn the violence that took place here in the strongest possible terms. We grieve the loss of life in these hallowed halls to those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today: you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the people’s house,” he said.
Pence, who is presiding over the session, was evacuated from the Senate in the afternoon as a subgroup of protesters breached the U.S. Capitol. Police evacuated the chamber at 2:30 p.m., ushering senators to undisclosed locations.
Officials declared the U.S. Capitol complex “secure” later in the evening after having dispersed protesters who gathered outside the building to protest against how the election has been handled.
Video footage showed people dressed in black with red MAGA hats spraying fire extinguishers inside the Capitol. It is unclear who instigated the riot.
A woman was shot inside the U.S. Capitol and was later confirmed dead by the Metropolitan Police Department. A police spokesman declined to provide more details on her identity or what happened.
One video footage of the incident showed a sound of a gunshot as the woman climbs into the Speaker’s Lobby just outside the House chamber. Another video showed the aftermath of the shooting.
“We had stormed into the chambers inside, and there was a young lady who rushed through the windows. A number of police and Secret Service were saying ‘get back, get down, get out of the way,’” a witness told WUSA. “She didn’t heed the call and as we kind of raced up to grab people, and pull them back, they shot her in the neck.”
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell called the invasion a “failed insurrection” and said, “we will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation.”
“We are back in our posts. We will discharge our duty under the Constitution, and for our nation. And we are going to do it tonight,” he said.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) late Wednesday said that she had changed her mind and will no longer object to the Electoral College certification process. “I cannot now in good conscience object to the certification of these electors,” she said.
Prior to the objections to Arizona’s electoral votes, Pence said Wednesday that he did not believe he has the “unilateral authority” to decide between competing slates of electors, and described his role as presiding officer as “largely ceremonial.”
“Given the voting irregularities that took place in our November elections and the disregard of state election statutes by some officials, I welcome the efforts of Senate and House members who have stepped forward to use their authority under the law to raise objections and present evidence,” he said earlier.
Zachary Stieber, Jack Phillips, and Reuters contributed to this report.