The certification of the Electoral College’s votes in the 2020 presidential election started with a photo for Wisconsin’s U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin. Before entering the Senate chambers to engage in debate, the second-term senator snapped a photo of the crowd flowing toward the Capitol.
A short time later, Baldwin said, she and several other members of Congress were “moments away” from encountering rioters that had stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Baldwin recounted the experience on Saturday with Jessie Opoien, Capitol bureau chief at the Cap Times, in a one-on-one Cap Times Idea Fest conversation.
Baldwin said she was taking in the back-and-forth of the debate about Arizona’s election results when she “watched Vice President Pence get snatched from the presiding chair by his security detail.”
“We were told that the safest place was to shelter in place, and they started closing all the doors to the chamber,” Baldwin recalled. “And then after the breach of the Capitol and the breach of the House floor, they kind of reconsidered and said, ‘you know it'll be safer if we can get you out before the crowd starts coming the other direction.’”
It was “shocking,” she said, to see during the impeachment trial that she and other senators were just moments away from encountering rioters.
The discussion also featured plenty of talk about ongoing negotiations in Washington over the "Build Back Better" budget bill being considered by Democrats, along with the infrastructure bill already passed by the Senate.
Baldwin cited universal broadband access, the removal of all lead laterals in Wisconsin and other states and extending the expanded child tax credit — which was approved in Democrats’ first budget reconciliation bill — among her top priorities for the massive legislation.
She said it’s “kind of interesting that everyone’s focused on the price tag of the bill,” given its tax-and-spend nature. Instead, she said, the discussion should be on how provisions in the bill will help people and whether or not lawmakers “have a commitment to do it.”
She also said she wants to see movement from her colleagues on a series of voter protection laws that have no current support from Republican members of the Senate.
The two issues put together, she said, will lead to “a confrontation on the filibuster rules in our Senate.”
“Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be an interesting battle,” she said of convincing her moderate colleagues to change Senate rules. “I will tell you that I support either repeal or reform of the filibuster because we’ve got to get the job done.”