**VIDEO RELEASE**

WASHINGTON, D.C. [01/06/22]—Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) delivered a speech from the Senate floor to mark the one year anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, recalling her experience that day and calling on her colleagues to protect our democracy against ongoing attacks.

You can access video of Sen. Smith’s remarks here and the full remarks are included below.

“The insurrection and coup attempt on January 6th, 2021 was unsuccessful.  But the fight continues in state legislatures across the country, and they are prevailing,” said Sen. Smith in her remarks from the Senate floor. “According to the Brennan Center, in 2021, 19 states passed laws restricting Americans voting rights and giving partisan officials – Republicans – unprecedented control over the certification of election results.” 

“Their plan is right out there in plain view.  Step one is to make it harder for some people to vote.  Step two is to give partisans at the local level the power to ignore and overturn the people’s votes. This is a coordinated strategy connected directly to the events of January 6 and it is the path to overturning our democracy, if we allow it.”

“We can’t allow it.  Through the January 6 Commission, and through the Department of Justice, we need to hold accountable those responsible for these crimes – including those at the top.”

“And we need to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, which provides for basic standards for free and fair elections, and fulfills the fundamental promise of our nation – that in our democratic republic, the people decide.  Not a single Republican Senator is willing to join us Democrats, which is a tragedy.”

“Colleagues, I implore you – we can’t let Republicans hide behind Senate rules and block us from taking this common sense step to protect our democracy.  In a democracy, a majority of the people decide.  That’s how it works in township meetings, in City Halls and County Board meetings, and in state legislatures, and that’s how it should work in the United States Senate.  We Senators have the power to protect our democracy, we have no excuse not to use it.”

You can read Sen. Smith’s remarks as prepared for delivery below:

Floor Speech: On the Anniversary of January 6th Attack

January 6, 2022

M.  President –

I rise today with my colleagues to commemorate the first anniversary January 6 – the attack on our Capitol and the attempted coup to overturn our democracy.

I’ve thought a lot about this day over the past year.  I speak today because I think it’s important that we are clear about what happened on January 6, how it connects to what has happened since, and what needs to happen next.

(Let us be clear.)  On January 6 there was a violent attack on the United States Capitol, led by insurrectionists whose explicit goal was to overthrow the free and fair election of President Biden. 

The attack happened because former President Trump and his allies encouraged his supporters to come to Washington.  He told them falsely that the election had been stolen.  He incited them to violence, and then he sat and watched while the Capitol was attacked.  These are the facts – there was no attempt to hide it.  It was plain as that wintery January day.

I am sure all of us in this room have vivid memories of what happened on that day: moments of crisis leave a deep imprint.  And for us this violence happened in our workplace while we were here doing our jobs. 

The Capitol on January 6 was full of members of Congress, national political leaders of both parties, and a Vice President that the former President had exhorted his angry mob to hunt down.

It was also full of journalists, custodians, and cafeteria workers.  In this Chamber were our colleagues the clerks, floor staff, parliamentarians, and stenographers who work here hour after hour, making this place work.  Public servants – thrown into violent chaos and danger by the former President.

And law enforcement.  Let’s remember that January 6 was the one of the worst days for injuries to law enforcement since 9/11, as a violent mob bludgeoned, crushed, wounded and killed.

That’s what happened.  And no amount of whitewashing will change it.

It also happened, when we all came back into this Chamber to finish our jobs and certify the people’s votes, that some Republicans, spoke the truth about the terrible tragedy of the day.  Senator McConnell said, quote, “the mob was fed lies.  They were provoked by the President and other powerful people.”

Lindsey Graham (point to his seat) declared, in reference to the disgraced former President, quote, “count me out.  Enough is enough.”

For a moment, it seemed like we would unify in condemning the political violence incited by a president who had betrayed our fundamental constitutional principles.  But later that night Senator Cruz, Senator Hawley, and six other Senators voted to overturn our free and fair election result, continuing down this reckless path.

Within days, Republican party leaders and right wing media outlets began turning away from the facts of January 6.  Former President Trump was impeached for his seditious actions, but his hold on the Republican party is so strong that only seven Republican Senators voted to convict.  Republicans continue to promote the big lie that Trump won the election. 

They claim that the people who stormed the Capitol with zip ties and bludgeons were tourists.  They’ve attempted to portray these violent insurgents as martyrs rather than domestic terrorists.  This is why, today, 58% percent of Republicans believe falsely that the election was stolen from President Trump.

The insurrection and coup attempt on January 6th, 2021 was unsuccessful.  But the fight continues in state legislatures across the country, and they are prevailing.  According to the Brennan Center, in 2021, 19 states passed laws restricting Americans voting rights and giving partisan officials – Republicans – unprecedented control over the certification of election results. 

Their plan is right out there in plain view.  Step one is to make it harder for some people to vote.  Step two is to give partisans at the local level the power to ignore and overturn the people’s votes. 

This is a coordinated strategy connected directly to the events of January 6 and it is the path to overturning our democracy, if we allow it.

We can’t allow it.  Through the January 6 Commission, and through the Department of Justice, we need to hold accountable those responsible for these crimes – including those at the top.

And we need to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, which provides for basic standards for free and fair elections, and fulfills the fundamental promise of our nation – that in our democratic republic, the people decide.  Not a single Republican Senator is willing to join us Democrats, which is a tragedy. 

Colleagues, I implore you – we can’t let Republicans hide behind Senate rules and block us from taking this common sense step to protect our democracy.  In a democracy, a majority of the people decide.  That’s how it works in township meetings, in City Halls and County Board meetings, and in state legislatures, and that’s how it should work in the United States Senate.  We Senators have the power to protect our democracy, we have no excuse not to use it.

On January 6, I woke up early, and wrote down a few thoughts before I headed to the Capitol.  I had been sworn into office – the third time in three years – just a few days before.  My husband Archie had been with me for the swearing in, and he’d headed home to Minnesota with the anxious question, “Are you going to be okay?”  For sure, I told him – the United States Capitol is one of the safest places in the country.

Here’s what I wrote:  “Today is a remarkable day.  This morning I’m filled with optimism.  Georgians turned out in record numbers to elect Reverend Warnock, pastor of Dr.  King’s home church.  And it looks very likely that Jon Ossoff will be victorious, giving Democrats a majority in the Senate.  For me, this means the work that Minnesotans sent me to Washington to do can actually get done.  We will get through this day.  I truly believe our democracy is resilient and can withstand this desperate coup attempt.  But it’s a reminder of how hard we have to fight for our core principles, that no one is above the law and that in a democracy the people decide.”

Little did I know.  But my optimism still holds, and my faith that we can be worthy of the promise laid out in our constitution, “We the people of the United States, in order to secure a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.”

Thank you.  I yield the floor. 

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