WASHINGTON — As they marked the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, fueled in large part by lies about the last presidential election in Pennsylvania, local Democrats warned Thursday that the threats to democracy seen so vividly that day remain as strong as ever.
“We’re at a point now where the Big Lie is perpetuating itself,” Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) said on the Senate floor.
U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D., N.J.), who was in the House chamber the day of the insurrection, said in a speech, “On Jan. 6, 2021, we thwarted the attack on the Capitol. On Jan. 6, 2022, the attack on our democracy continues.”
They joined other Democrats who used the solemn day of remembrance to warn that the ongoing belief in former President Donald Trump’s false election claims shows that Jan. 6 was not a turning point, but a signal for more action.
They pointed to many Republicans’ continued embrace of Trump and his denial about the 2020 results, and warned that future elections may be in even more danger in the wake of new laws in some states that could make it easier for politicians to subvert election results. They blasted some conservatives’ attempts to downplay or dismiss the Capitol assault.
Speaking at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D., Pa.) criticized GOP colleagues who “sit silently or make cowardly statements about not being sure about the election result.”
”They are just as guilty,” Scanlon said.
It was a day mixed with reminders of fear and the heroics of Capitol police, lingering anger, shreds of optimism and calls for voting rights reforms. It arrived, however, as the public remains sharply divided over the results of the 2020 election and the significance of the riot.
While some Democrats compared it to the Sept. 11 attacks, Republicans accused them of exaggerating for political gain. They noted that a number of Democrats used the day as the basis for fund-raising solicitations.
Most Republicans were silent about the anniversary, but Trump issued a string of statements reiterating the original lie, that the 2020 election was stolen.
“Never forget the crime of the 2020 Presidential Election. Never give up!” Trump wrote in one, echoing some of the very messages he delivered the day of the assault. He has continued attacking Pennsylvania’s vote specifically.
Many local Democrats used the anniversary to call for an end to the Senate filibuster, which requires 60 votes for most legislation, so that Democrats can pass federal laws that would make voting easier.
“In states right now, laws are being passed, specifically designed to disenfranchise people,” Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) said on the Senate floor, recounting how a year ago a Confederate flag was paraded through the Capitol.
Other Democrats also pointed to the number of Republican candidates in Pennsylvania who have backed Trump’s false claims about the state’s vote, or refused to comment on them.
“There is a clear and present danger to our democratic institutions, and it is taking root…