“We all know the commission is an urgent, necessary idea to safeguard our democracy,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “What happened on Jan. 6 was a travesty, a travesty. It risked America in ways we haven’t seen in decades, maybe even our history altogether.”
Democrats need at least 10 Republicans to vote for the bill in order to break through a Republican filibuster. The legislation passed the House last week with 35 Republican yes votes despite opposition from party leadership.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has offered shifting reasons for his opposition to the commission over the past few months, complaining about the commission’s structure, its scope, and its alleged duplication of the Justice Department’s investigation into the riot.
McConnell offered a more candid reason on Tuesday, saying Democrats want to focus on the past while Republicans would simply prefer to highlight misdeeds by President Joe Biden.
“They would like to continue to litigate the former president into the future,” McConnell said at a news conference. “We think the American people going forward and in the fall of ’22 ought to focus on what this administration is doing to the country.”
Several Republicans who voted to convict Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection have expressed interest in supporting the House-passed bill, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Susan Collins of Maine. Others are still publicly undecided, including Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), a surprise vote for Trump’s conviction in January, opposes establishing a commission to investigate the Capitol attack.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who withdrew his objection to the Electoral College vote count on Jan. 6 after the riot interrupted his Senate floor speech, told HuffPost the House bill, which was written by a Republican and a Democrat and supported by 35 Republicans, is bipartisan only “in theory.”
“There’s no way they can put a commission together and have that done by the end of December,” Lankford said, referring to the bill’s deadline for a final report. “We all know that.”
Lankford said Congress should wait for the results of a bipartisan Senate investigation into the riot before launching another inquiry.
Broad GOP opposition to the bill prompted two moderate Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, to issue a statement on Tuesday pleading with their colleagues to come around. In the name of bipartisan compromise, the two Democratic senators have resisted calls within their party to eliminate the filibuster. Manchin told reporters on Tuesday, however, that he wouldn’t support eliminating the filibuster even if Republicans use it to block the Jan. 6 commission, which is looking all but certain at this point.
“That is extremely frustrating and disturbing,” Manchin said when asked about McConnell’s opposition to the commission. “I would like to think he loves this institution.”
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