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Georgia congresswoman sees tie between Speaker drama, Jan. 6 attack

"The party Donald Trump created" is dysfunctional, Democrat Nikema Williams said.

ATLANTA — The U.S. House failed to elect a speaker again Friday. Republican Kevin McCarthy came closer than ever to winning a majority, as a dozen Republican opponents flipped to support McCarthy. They included Georgia U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde of Athens.

Friday was also two years since the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. One Georgia congresswoman said she sees a straight line between what happened then and what’s happening now.

Two years ago, Georgia’s U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta / 5th District) was brand new to Congress – when a mob attacked the Capitol.

"That day, I didn’t really even know how to get around the Capitol," Williams recalled. "I remember seeing emails coming through saying which buildings had been evacuated. And I didn’t know which buildings those were."

Williams said she stayed locked in her office.

"We closed the blinds. I turned the location services off on my phone. And we sat there really quietly because I could hear the chaos outside," she said.

Now, Williams and other Congress members are experiencing a different kind of chaos – where the new Republican majority has been unable to choose a House speaker. Monday, Williams sat in the House chamber near the front with her 7-year-old son Carter in the next seat, waiting to hold a Bible to swear in his mother.  

That still hasn’t happened. No House members have been sworn it; it can't happen until a Speaker is elected.

"It is hard to not see the parallels between what continues to happen here with our government with the Republicans in Washington and what has happened," Williams said. "Our democracy should be beyond partisan politics. But that’s what the Republicans have done to our country."

Although only a small fraction of GOP House members are stalling the House vote, Williams blames the new House majority for failing to call them out.  

"I understand that even when they want to do the right thing, a lot of them are afraid of what it means when they get back home; what that means for the party that Donald Trump has created," she said. "So, it is difficult but this is the time we have to stand up and be leaders."

Williams is also the Chair of Georgia's State Democratic Party.

She said Capitol Police installed an emergency help button under the desk in her office since the Jan. 6 attack.  Williams said this week, her 7-year-old accidentally set it off.  

She said Capitol Police responded very quickly.


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