Happy 2021! Here are the main events that occurred in Politics this week:
1. 117th Congress Sworn In
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was reelected to lead the chamber as the 117th Congress convened on January 4, with the California Democrat set to shepherd her party through a new Congress with the slimmest majority of any political party since 1917. Members cast their votes for speaker ahead of their swearing in Sunday evening, with Pelosi earning support from 216 Democrats and clearing the threshold of 214 to secure the House’s top position. The proceedings at the Capitol were marked by the Coronavirus pandemic, which led to a changing of procedures to ensure the new Congress could gather safely. Two Democrats, Jared Golden of Maine and Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, cast votes for Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York, respectively. Three Democratic House members voted “present.” Notably, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, and other members of “The Squad” backed Pelosi in her bid for the speakership. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy won 209 votes from Republicans.
2. In A Surprising Upset, Democrats Score Double-Barreled Win In Georgia Senate Runoff Elections
Democrats won both Georgia Senate seats, and with them, the US Senate majority, as final votes were counted on January 6, serving President Donald Trump a stunning defeat in his turbulent final days in office while dramatically improving the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s progressive agenda. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, Democratic challengers who represented the diversity of their party’s evolving coalition, defeated Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler two months after Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1992. Warnock, who served as pastor for the same Atlanta church where civil rights leader the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. preached, becomes the first African American from Georgia elected to the Senate. And Ossoff becomes the state’s first Jewish senator and, at 33 years old, the Senate’s youngest member.
3. Pro-Donald Trump Rioters Storm Capitol In Attempted Coup
Pro-Donald Trump rioters overwhelmed the Capitol Police and stormed Congress on January 6, interrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College win and throwing the US Capitol into a spiral of chaos and violence. Shortly after 2:30 p.m., lawmakers, staff, and reporters were forced to shelter in place, and several House office buildings were evacuated due to potential bomb threats. Vice President Mike Pence was pulled from the Senate chamber. But the situation quickly spun out of control. Protesters breached the Capitol, entering the Senate chamber and streaming through Statuary Hall. They broke windows, and one man sat in the very seat Pence had been sitting in just a few minutes before, while another was in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Lawmakers, reporters, and staffers sheltered throughout the building as pro-Trump rioters banged on doors and shouted. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) were quickly whisked away to undisclosed locations as the violent protesters broke through the Capitol, busting through secure doors, shattering windows and even scaling scaffolding outside of Senate leadership offices. One person was injured when they fell more than 30 feet from the scaffolding. By mid-afternoon, the National Guard was called up to help suppress the unrest, nearly two hours after the first reports of a breach.