Democrats suffered a huge defeat in Congress today when the GOP used the filibuster to block the creation of an independent commission to look into the Jan 6 riot. The vote was delayed and the pressure was intense on the GOP Senators from all sides. Trump got involved and tried to torpedo the bill and was ultimately successful.
That said, this is a bit of a gamble as the Democrats did cave to most of the GOP’s demands but when Pelosi launches her investigation the GOP will get no such privileges. The Dems will try to Benghazi the GOP heading into the midterms something moderate Republicans warned would happen without the equal access today’s bill would have offered.
The six Republicans who voted in favor of the commission were Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah), and Ben Sasse (Neb.).
“I am sorry if an independent commission to study an attack on our democracy isn’t a Republican ad-makers idea of a good time. This is too important,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said.
“To be making a decision for the short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us, on January 6, I think we need to look at that critically,” Lisa Murkowski said.
“Is that really what this is about is everything is just one election cycle after another? Or are we going to acknowledge that as a country that is based on these principles of democracy that we hold so dear?”
“The Department of Justice is deep into a massive criminal investigation,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.
“I do not believe the additional, extraneous ‘commission’ that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts or promote healing. Frankly, I do not believe it is even designed to.”
Republicans have privately said that a 9/11-style commission would be a political mess for the GOP and could jeopardize Senate seats next year, Axios’ Alayna Treene reports.
Former President Trump, who remains the most popular figure in the GOP, has condemned the proposed commission as “partisan” and demanded investigations into left-wing political violence during racial-justice protests last year.
Ahead of the vote, the mother of fallen Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick met privately with Republicans to urge them to vote for the bill. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican who has sought to downplay the severity of the Capitol attack, said he “respectfully disagreed” with her on the “added value of the proposed commission.”
The commission would have attempted to find bipartisan consensus. According to the bill, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate evenly split the selection of its 10 members. A subpoena can only be issued to compel witness testimony if it has the support of the majority of members, or if the commission’s chairperson, chosen by Democrats, and the vice-chairperson, chosen by Republicans, come to an agreement.
The commission would have been also required to submit to the President and Congress a final report by the end of 2021 and dissolve 60 days thereafter — about nine months before the 2022 elections.
The House passed the bill 252-175 last week, with 35 Republicans joining Democrats.
At least eight Republicans requested time to speak on the floor overnight — for up to an hour each — to voice their objections to the legislative package aimed at China, known as “the US Innovation and Competition Act,” and those GOP senators slammed what they said is a rushed process to make last-minute changes they have yet to review.
Three senators spoke late Thursday night and early Friday morning — Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Rick Scott of Florida — before the Senate adjourned, meaning there are at least five senators who will likely speak when the Senate resumes.
According to Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, who is the GOP Whip, Republicans would likely use five to six hours of their allotted time to speak on the floor.
That could be followed by additional debate as well as a series of procedural votes ahead of final passage of the legislative package, pushing the vote on the 1/6 commission farther into the day Friday or possibly to the weekend.
This could change or move more quickly if senators give back their allotted time or forgo some of the steps they have been asked to take, which could speed up or slow down the process depending on what they decide to do.