President Biden said he “can’t imagine” why Republicans would vote against the Jan. 6 riot commission, as legislation to form the probe stalls in the Senate. 

“I can’t imagine anyone voting against the establishing commission on the greatest assault since the Civil War on the Capitol,” Biden told reporters Thursday. 

It’s not clear whether he meant “capital” or “Capitol.” There was no serious attack on the Capitol during the Civil War, but there was fighting in Washington, D.C. 

The House passed legislation on May 19 to form the independent panel with support from 35 Republicans, despite opposition from former President Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. The bill now needs 60 votes to advance in the 50-50 split Senate, which is an uphill climb with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also opposing the commission. McConnell argued there are already enough investigations into the Jan. 6 attack. 

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

FILE – In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

The commission met one Republican demand by having an equal number of members from each party, but did not meet another condition that McCarthy and some other Republicans wanted: to investigate other political violence, such as Antifa riots, in addition to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. 

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Half of the commissioners would be appointed by Democrats and the other half would be appointed by Republicans. The commission will have subpoena power to carry out the investigation, but there must be bipartisan agreement by the chair and vice chair or by a vote by a majority of commission members. 

Republicans have expressed political concerns that keeping the spotlight on the 2020 election, in general, could harm their chances of winning back Congress in the 2022 midterm elections. 

“I want our midterm message to be … jobs and wages and the economy and national security and safe streets … and not relitigating the 2020 election,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., previously told The Hill of concerns on how the commission could undercut the GOP midterm messaging. “Anything that gets us rehashing the 2020 election, I think, is a day lost.”

FUTURE OF SENATE FILIBUSTER FACES CRUCIAL DAY THURSDAY

But Democrats are pushing hard to get the commission up and running, and if Republicans choose to filibuster the legislation in Thursday’s procedural vote, they could push to abolish the 60-vote hurdle. 

To do that they’d need to win over the deciding vote on most legislation in their caucus– Sen. Joe Manchin, W.Va. Manchin has expressed a similar sentiment to Biden, expressing frustration that Republicans would think to oppose such a commission. But he said he’s not willing to nuke the filibuster to do it. 

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“I’m not ready to destroy our government, no,” he told reporters on Thursday. “I think a bill will come together. You have to have faith.”

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