Industry and business groups and labor unions universally denounced the actions of rioters who broke into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, with statements going as far as calling for President Donald Trump to step down but others taking a more measured response.
“Yesterday’s inexcusable violence and chaos at the Capitol makes clear that elected officials’ perpetuation of the fiction of a fraudulent 2020 presidential election is not only reprehensible, but also a danger to our democracy, our society and our economy,” read a Jan. 7 statement from the Business Roundtable, which includes CEOs from AECOM, Bechtel, Caterpillar, Kiewit and owners such as Chevron and Intel. “It is only together that we can move forward to successfully confront our nation’s many challenges, chief among them ending the pandemic and ensuring a safe and rapid economic recovery.”
U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao also condemned the actions, announcing Jan. 7 she would resign her post as of Jan. 11, citing the “traumatic and entirely avoidable” storming of the Capitol as a reason. She was the first cabinet-level administration member to do so because of the riots. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned later Jan. 7, citing the riots. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), which gives added weight to her resignation.
North America’s Building Trades Unions’ President Sean McGarvey said Jan. 6 that, “Today’s despicable events are unprecedented, and, as we have all seen, are extremely dangerous. North America’s Building Trades Unions call on President Trump to immediately step down and transfer power per the Constitution and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947,” he said in a statement Jan. 6. “If he refuses, the Cabinet must immediately invoke the 25th amendment to remove the President. Any less action by the Cabinet, and America should consider them all co-conspirators.”
The National Association of Manufacturers also issued a statement calling on the use of the 25th Amendment, adding: “Throughout this whole disgusting episode, Trump has been cheered on by members of his own party, adding fuel to the distrust that has enflamed violent anger.”
The departure of Chao, however, makes the invocation of the 25th amendment more unlikely as a majority of members of the Cabinet and Vice President Mike Pence must agree to remove the president under the amendment.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on Jan. 6 called the storming of the Capitol by President Trump’s supporters “One of the greatest assaults on our democracy since the Civil War.” He continued, “Today’s attempted coup has been years in the making as Donald Trump consistently spews venom, conspiracies, hate and lies to his supporters. … this is an effort to violate the constitutional rights of every law-abiding American and the labor movement will not stand for it. Not today. Not ever.”
Other statements, however, didn’t go as far as calling for the president’s removal.
“We believe the unfortunate, heartbreaking, events of yesterday will unify members of Congress and hopefully enable them to focus on passing measures that will heal our country, rebuild our economy and restore our spirits,” said the Associated General Contractors.
“Violence, no matter the location or purpose is never the answer. The core values that govern Associated Builders and Contractors and our 21,000 members reject violence, coercion and intimidation of anyone by anyone at any time,” the Associated Builders and Contractors said on Instagram.
Chao, in announcing her resignation said “we will help my announced successor, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, with taking on the responsibility of running this wonderful department.”
Transport Workers Union International President John Samuelsen issued a statement in response to Chao’s resignation: "Our democracy rests on the choices our leaders make to uphold and honor our civil procedures and norms. In the face of sedition and insurrection, Secretary Chao is making the choice to stand with our Constitution to oppose the violent attempt, fueled by President Trump, to subvert our democracy. The TWU calls on all elected leaders to make a similar choice to protect the soul of our nation and ensure a peaceful transition of power."