Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Thursday that federal lawmakers must do everything they can in the coming weeks and months to ensure that the U.S. Capitol never sees another security breach like what happened a day earlier.
"Of course there'll be a major investigation into what went wrong here," said Klobuchar, who was with many of her colleagues in the Senate chambers on Wednesday when a mob of President Donald Trump's supporters overtook Capitol Police and forced lawmakers to evacuate. "That has to happen. We need to know what went wrong so it never happens again."
The Minnesota Democrat is likely to have a prominent role in the congressional response. With the Democratic victories earlier this week in two Georgia special elections, her party is poised to take the narrowest of Senate majorities. That means she will ascend to the chair of the Senate Rules Committee, where she has previously served as ranking member.
Klobuchar said multiple Senate committees are likely to be involved with investigating what occurred and revising Capitol safety protocols. Already, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, soon to be majority leader, announced that he would fire the Senate's sergeant-a-arms in response to the breakdown in security.
Klobuchar's own experience on Wednesday is likely to be a guide as she and colleagues mount their response.
As the ranking member on the Rules Committee, she was the Democratic lead in the debate over the certification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College win. In her own remarks before the breach, she noted a quote often attributed to Founding Father Benjamin Franklin when he was asked about the form of the country's new government.
"A Republic, if we can keep it," Klobuchar said.
A short time later, as a Republican colleague was speaking, "they told us there'd been a security breach," she said Thursday. "Then a short time later, they said the Senate side had been breached." Soon, Capitol police officers were hustling senators out of the chamber to a secure location.
Klobuchar praised the Senate staffer who had the presence of mind to grab several wooden boxes full of the actual electoral votes from the states. "They would have been destroyed if they'd stayed, and [Trump supporters] could have refuted the results," she said.
For the next few hours, Klobuchar and colleagues from both parties sheltered in a room together. "We all watched Biden's speech," she recalled. She helped security officers call other senators who weren't in the chamber at the time, to make sure everyone was accounted for and safe.
With the building finally cleared of rioters, the Senate resumed its certification of the electoral vote. Only seven Republican senators objected, a considerably smaller number than initially expected.
Once finished, around 4 a.m., Klobuchar, outgoing Rules Chairman Sen. Roy Blunt and Vice President Mike Pence walked the electoral ballot boxes across the Capitol to the House chamber and handed them over to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
"We had to show we were back in business, that despite the horrific day and the breach of security, that were not going to let them bring us down," Klobuchar said of the mob. "We defeated them."
Patrick Condon • 612-673-4413