Andrew Trunsky, DCNF
Senate Republicans killed a bipartisan bill establishing a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol, filibustering the first legislation since President Joe Biden took office after a multi-hour, overnight session pushed the vote back a day.
The bill failed 54 to 35, getting the support of six Republicans instead of the 10 that it needed to overcome the Senate’s 60-vote threshold required to begin debate. The bill would have established a 10-member, bipartisan commission into the Capitol riot, when pro-Trump rioters attempted to block Congress from certifying Biden’s victory.
“There is, has been, and there will continue to be, no shortage of robust investigations by two separate branches of the federal government,” McConnell said. “It’s not at all clear what new facts our additional investigation, yet another commission, could actually lay on top of existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress.”
Democrats, however, decried Republicans’ opposition and the filibuster, which sets a 60-vote threshold for most legislation to advance.
“We have a mob overtake the Capitol, and we can’t get the Republicans to join us in making historic record of the event?” asked Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the no. 2 in his caucus, on the Senate floor. “That tells you what’s wrong with the Senate and what’s wrong with the filibuster.”
Other Democrats have accused McConnell of prioritizing partisan politics over investigating an unprecedented attack that left multiple people dead and forced lawmakers to quickly flee their respective chambers for their safety.
“There is no excuse for any Republican to vote against this commission since Democrats have agreed to everything they asked for,” said West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. “McConnell has made this his political position, thinking it will help his 2022 elections. They do not believe in the truth will set you free, so they continue to live in fear.”
“If our Republican friends vote against this, I would ask them, ‘what are you afraid of? The truth?’,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor minutes before Friday’s vote. “Are you afraid that Donald Trump’s big lie will be dispelled? Are you afraid that all of the misinformation that poured out will be rebutted by a bipartisan, down-the-middle commission?”
Though the bill passed the House last week with the support of 35 Republicans, Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Rob Portman of Ohio were the only Republicans who voted in favor, even after Collins planned an amendment that would give Republicans more sway in appointing the commission’s staff in an attempt to secure additional GOP support.
“I want to see a commission,” Collins told reporters Wednesday. “I am working very hard to secure Republican votes.”
“The investigations will happen with or without Republicans,” Cassidy said in a statement ahead of the vote. “To ensure the investigations are fair, impartial, and focused on the facts, Republicans need to be involved.”
“I think the perception is on the part of the public that the January 6 Commission just trying to get to the truth of what happened, and that Republicans would be seen as not wanting to let the truth come out,” Romney told CNN on Wednesday. “I don’t believe that’s what’s the motivation but I think that’s the perception.”
Manchin and Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema, the two Democrats who have most adamantly defied calls from their party to abolish the filibuster, released a joint statement Monday urging their Republican colleagues to back the commission in order to “never experience an attack like this again.”
Ahead of Friday’s vote, the mother of the late Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died during the riot, said that she would meet with Republican lawmakers in a statement first reported by Politico to urge them to back the commission as well.
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