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NM members of Congress react to riots at Capitol

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U.S. Capitol Police hold protesters at gun-point near the House Chamber inside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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Members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation took to social media Wednesday to confirm that they were safe and strongly condemned the violence of protesters who stormed the Capitol.

“I am here in my office with one staff member and we will stay put until they tell us it is safe to go out,” U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, D-NM and who represents the state’s 1st Congressional District said in a 37-second video posted on her Facebook page.

Haaland, who has been nominated by President-elect Joe Biden to lead the U.S. Department of the Interior, added she received multiple text messages asking about her status amid reports that pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol during a joint session meant to count the electoral votes in the 2020 presidential election.

According to The Associated Press, members of the D.C. National Guard were deployed to the Capitol to quell the unrest and a curfew of 6 p.m. was imposed on the city in an attempt to restore order. One woman was also killed.

Sen. Ben Ray Lujan, a Democrat, strongly condemned the violence.

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“The siege of the U.S. Capitol by rioters endangered lives and represented a direct attack on our nation’s democracy. What took place today is not how we resolve our differences in this country,” he said in a press release.

Tensions have run high across the country as President Donald Trump and many of his supporters have cast doubt on the integrity of the election, attributing his defeat to unproven allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities.

Such allegations have been debunked by state officials and organizations such as the National Association of Secretaries of State who in a November statement called the 2020 election “the safest election in modern history.” U.S. Attorney William Barr, before he resigned in December, also said no evidence had surfaced of voter fraud on a scale that would alter the outcome of the presidential race.

A contingent of House and U.S. Senate Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, of New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, had backed an effort Wednesday to reject the counting of electoral votes from several battleground states that handed President-elect Joe Biden a victory over Trump.

In a tweet Wednesday she denounced the violence.

“I am safe, but the violence at the Capitol is entirely unacceptable. I urge all those in Washington today to allow Congress to continue its business as the Constitution requires,” Herrell said in a message tweeted out at 12:49 p.m. ET.

In a later tweet she called the violence “reprehensible” and said she condemns anyone who would endanger the well-being of law enforcement officers.

Former U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, who Herrell defeated in November, in a tweet urged members of Congress to come together and accept the results of the election and cease stoking doubts about it’s legitimacy.

“For the sake of our country, Democratic and Republican leaders must immediately unite behind the results of a legitimate election. We are seeing the consequences of this disinformation playing out before our eyes,” Torres Small said.

The rioting prompted Congress to suspend its count of the electoral vote, but many lawmakers reiterated their determination to certify the results.

“Violent thugs encouraged by a desperate loser won’t get their way,” U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez, a Democrat from New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District said in a tweet in reference to the protesters.

“Let’s get one thing clear: We are not a dictatorship where political loyalists cancel out an election,” Fernandez added.

Sens. Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan, both Democrats, said they were unswayed by the violence.

“None of this insanity does anything to change the outcome of the election. When order is restored, we are going to go back and do our jobs and certify the election,” Heinrich said in a tweet Wednesday.

Heinrich added in an official statement, “I urge all Americans — regardless of who they voted for — to reject and condemn the violence we’ve witnessed today and this brazen attempt to trample on our American values.”

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301 or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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