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Senate Republicans block bill from January 6 committee that would have investigated the Capitol riot

Senate Republicans blocked the bill passed by the House creating a commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol by a crowd of Trump supporters, signaling the strength of the party’s loyalty to the former president. Although most Republicans have been united in their opposition to the bill, fearing that a commission will extend into next year and potentially affect the GOP’s chances of winning back Congress midway through 2022, six voted to move the bill forward.

The vote to move the bill forward failed by 54 votes to 35, well below the 60 votes needed. Republican Senators Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse supported the bill to move forward. All but Portman voted to convict former President Trump on charges of inciting insurgency in February. GOP Senator Patrick Toomey was not present for the vote due to family involvement, but said in a statement he would have supported moving the measure forward.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer lambasted Republicans for their vote, asking if they had forgotten how insurgents threatened the lives of former Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers themselves on the 6th January, and attacked the police defending the building.

“Shame on the Republican Party for trying to sweep the horrors of this day under the rug because it is afraid of Donald Trump,” Schumer said, noting that many Republicans continued to accept Mr. Trump’s false claims that the elections were stolen. “Senate Republicans have chosen to defend the ‘big lie’ because they believe anything that upset Donald Trump could hurt them politically.”

Schumer also indicated he could force another vote on the bill at a later date.

Senate GOP blocks January 6 committee


At least one Republican who supported the bill has also expressed frustration with members of his own party. Murkowski said Thursday night it was “disappointing” that an independent commission did not appear to be in sight, and criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for prioritizing electoral politics.

“To make a decision for short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and recognizing what lies ahead on January 6, I think we need to take a critical look at this. is one election cycle after another? ” said Murkowski. McConnell has argued publicly that there are already ongoing investigations by congressional committees and the Department of Justice, making an independent bipartisan commission redundant.

“I’m disappointed that we just haven’t been able to recognize that an independent commission would be an opportunity for us to have an independent review of this while we do our job,” Murkowski said. United States Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who led a group of rioters away from the Senate Chamber on January 6, stood behind Murkowski as she spoke to reporters.

“The truth is a difficult thing, but we have a responsibility to it,” she said. “We just can’t pretend that nothing bad happened or that people got too excited. Something bad happened. And it’s important to explain it.”

Commission on the Breach of the Capitol
The May 26, 2021 photo shows Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell leaving a lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington. Senate Republicans are poised to use filibuster to block legislation establishing a commission on the deadly January 6 insurgency.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

The bill would create a 10-member commission split evenly among members selected by Democratic and Republican leaders. Both sides would have the same subpoena power, and the commission will be tasked with issuing a report with findings on the January 6 attack by the end of the year. Much of the language of the legislation is copied from the bill creating the 9/11 commission, which passed with a majority bipartisan vote in the Senate in 2002.

The two parties called for the creation of a 9/11-type commission the day after the attack, when rioters invaded the Capitol that Congress was counting electoral votes. But Republicans have backed down in recent months, arguing their party should instead focus on recapturing Congress from the 2022 midterm elections.

“I guess now we’ll never know,” Murkowski said Thursday of unresolved questions about the Jan.6 attack. “Isn’t that part of the problem we’ll never know?” It will never be resolved. It will still hang around there.

Several Democrats have called for the elimination of filibuster and see this bill as further evidence that bills should be allowed to advance by simple majority. West Virginia’s Sen. Joe Manchin, the most vocal Democratic opponent of eliminating filibuster, said Thursday he was still unwilling to take that step.

But Manchin told reporters after Friday’s vote he was “very frustrated” with the outcome of the vote, and said he believed more Republicans would have voted to move the bill forward if McConnell hadn’t. not actively urged its members not to support it.

“I can tell you now by opposing it, and pushing aside the people who in their hearts would support it, and you can talk to Susan Collins, there were loads of other Republicans who would have supported if he didn’t. ‘hadn’t been for his personal intervention,’ Manchin said.

In a scathing statement released after the vote, Manchin said that “the betrayal of the oath we each take is something [Republicans] will have to live with it. “

“To the brave Capitol Hill cops who risk their lives every day to keep us safe, to the Capitol and Congress staff who work tirelessly to make Congress work, even to the journalists who work hard to bring congressional news to the American people and to every American who watched in horror the attack on our Capitol on January 6th – you deserve better and I’m sorry my Republican colleagues and friends let political fear keep them from doing what they know in their hearts to be right “said Manchin.

Commission on the Breach of the Capitol
Senator Joe Manchin, a crucial 50th vote for Democrats on President Joe Biden’s proposals, walks with reporters as Senators walk to the chamber to vote ahead of the Memorial Day recess at the Capitol in Washington, DC, Thursday, May 27, 2021.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

McConnell has repeatedly indicated that he wants to move past Jan.6 and argued that it would be a “purely political exercise.” The bipartisan bill, which was passed by the Democratic-controlled House earlier this month, was negotiated in part by the rank Republican member of the House Homeland Security Committee.

President Nancy Pelosi criticized Republicans in a statement for rejecting the bill, saying “Republican senators stormed the crowd on January 6” with their vote.

“The denial of the truth about the Jan. 6 uprising by Chief McConnell and Senate Republicans shames the Senate. The cowardice of Republicans in rejecting the truth of this dark day makes our Capitol and our country less secure,” he said. said Pelosi. “Democrats worked across the aisle, accepting whatever Republicans asked for. We did it in the interests of reaching a bipartisan commission. By not taking yes for an answer, Republicans clearly put their electoral concerns ahead of the security of Congress and the country. “

Collins had circulated an amendment regarding the selection of committee staff that would have been considered by both the House and the Senate had the bill moved forward. Republicans feared the bill passed by the House would allow Democratic commissioners to hire all staff, and Collins’ amendment would allay GOP concerns by ensuring that Republican commissioners would also have an equal hand in the field. staff selection. However, Collins’ amendment failed to convince a sufficient number of Republicans to support the bill.

Pelosi said House Democrat-led committees would continue to investigate the attack. Unlike the congressional committees, the independent committee would not have included any elected officials.

“By honoring our responsibility to the Congress in which we serve and the country we love, Democrats will pursue the search for the truth,” Pelosi said.

Republicans also faced renewed pressure from Gladys Sicknick, the mother of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died the day after Jan.6 after hitting rioters on Capitol Hill. Not even a last-minute push from the mother of a deceased officer and current serving officers could convince most Republicans to change their minds.

Gladys Sicknick on Thursday called for a meeting with every Republican senator “to discuss the importance of establishing the Jan. 6 bipartisan commission,” according to a copy of the meeting request obtained by CBS News. It met several senators who expressed his opposition to the creation of a commission as well as some supporters.

She was joined by Brian Sicknick’s girlfriend Sandra Garza during her meetings with some Republican senators, as well as former GOP congressman Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone and the US Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn. Fanone suffered a heart attack and concussion in the January 6 attack, and Dunn was insulted by several of the insurgents.

“Usually I just stand back and I just couldn’t, I couldn’t stay silent anymore,” Gladys Sicknick told reporters after meeting Romney on Thursday morning.

Alan He, Rebecca Kaplan, and Jack Turman contributed to this report.

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