On the eve of the second anniversary of the January 6 attack, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar asked the public to imagine if far-right Republicans—now locked in a chaotic fight over the House speakership—controlled the lower chamber of Congress two years ago, when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a violent effort to overthrow the government.
"We remember the insurrection," Omar (D-Minn.) said in an appearance on MSNBC late Thursday. "We remember that the House was organized. We were ready, Democrats were ready—we'd already elected a speaker, we were ready to defend the Constitution, we were ready to defend our democracy. Imagine if this was to happen under Republican control?"
Just hours after the failed coup attempt of January 6, 2021—an attack fueled by Trump and his allies—a majority of House Republicans voted to toss out 2020 presidential election results from Arizona and Pennsylvania, citing baseless claims of fraud pushed aggressively by the former president.
The House, then controlled by Democrats, ultimately rejected the Republicans' challenges, as did the Senate. According to the Congressional Research Service, "both houses of Congress must agree to an objection for a state's electoral vote to be excluded from the vote count."
In the months that followed, the lower chamber formed a committee that launched a sweeping probe into the events of January 6, accumulating troves of evidence demonstrating that Trump was ultimately responsible for the Capitol assault. Testimony obtained by the committee also revealed that several Republican lawmakers—including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)—asked Trump for pardons in the wake of the insurrection.
The prospect of an attack like the January 6 insurrection taking place with the House controlled by a majority sympathetic to the mob is alarming to contemplate, Omar said Thursday. Many of the Republicans who voted to overturn the 2020 election results remain in their seats, including the California lawmaker vying for speaker and a ringleader of the far-right opposition.
"Tomorrow, when we walk in on the anniversary of January 6th, we will have no House organized," Omar said. "This is going to be the first time in over 100 years where we clearly cannot defend our democracy and our Constitution. We don't have the House in order, and the Republicans don't seem to be any closer in electing a speaker."
"It is just a shameful sight to see," Omar added, "not just for Americans but people across the world that expect us to have figured this out, being one of the oldest democracies in the world."
In a column on Thursday, The Philadelphia Inquirer's Will Bunch argued that "we can't move on, let alone learn, from 2021's insurrection when that uprising—crippling our government in the name of celebrity fascism—never ended."
"Over these two years, we've watched the violent tragedy of one January morph into this January's farce, yet it's the current farce that has brought the nation to a standstill and elevated the power of the extreme right," Bunch wrote. "Until there is actual accountability for what really happened on January 6, 2021, America's calendar will remain stuck on that date, which will live in infamy."