Police order evacuation of buildings on Hill

Us Capitol Building

The U.S. Capitol Police are evacuating some congressional office buildings due to “police activity” as thousands gather outside the Capitol to protest the electoral vote.

Police told congressional staff members they should evacuate the Cannon House Office Building and the building that houses the Library of Congress. It wasn’t immediately clear what specifically sparked the evacuation.

A police spokeswoman did not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

Thousands of people have descended on the U.S. Capitol as Congress is expected to vote to affirm Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential win. Videos posted online showed protesters fighting with U.S. Capitol Police officers as police fired pepper spray to keep them back.

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The Senate’s top Republican has told his colleagues that Congress should not override the voters’ verdict in electing Democrat Joe Biden president, saying, “If we overrule them we will damage our republic forever.”

The Kentucky Republican made his remarks as the Senate weighed a challenge by a handful of GOP lawmakers to the 11 electoral votes Arizona cast for Biden.

It was the first of several states’ electoral votes that some Republicans are challenging, encouraged by President Donald Trump’s groundless charges that the election was riddled with fraud. Congress seems certain to reject all those challenges on Wednesday and formally certify Biden’s victory.

McConnell says while all elections have irregularities, they weren’t “anywhere near the massive scale that would have tipped the entire election.” He says Congress should not declare itself “a national board of elections on steroids,” and says reversing the election results would push the country’s democratic institutions toward “a death spiral.”

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Republicans from the House and Senate have objected to the counting of Arizona’s electoral vote, forcing votes in both chambers on Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

The objection was made by Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar and was signed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Both are Republicans. The two chambers now have two hours to debate the challenge.

Biden won the state by more than 10,000 votes. In all, eight lawsuits challenging Biden’s Arizona win have failed, in part over a lack of evidence.

The state’s Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the dismissal of an election challenge, because the plaintiff lacked the right to bring the suit in the first place. The woman wasn’t a registered voter when she sued.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, has said there were no irregularities with the vote in her state.

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Congress has begun a joint session to count and confirm the Electoral College vote won by Joe Biden.

With supporters of President Donald Trump gathering around the Capitol, more than a dozen Republican senators and more than 100 Republican House members have said they will object to the count from as many as six battleground states. They are echoing Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud.

Their efforts are almost certain to fail as many Republicans have said they will oppose the objections. But the session is expected to last into the night on Wednesday as the House and Senate must consider each objection separately and vote on whether to sustain it.

Vice President Mike Pence will preside over the session. He has no power to overturn the results, despite pressure from Trump to do so.

Biden won the Electoral College 306-232. He is set to be inaugurated Jan. 20.