The bipartisan proposal was almost exactly what 31 House Republicans demanded in January.
A total of 44 Republicans on Friday stopped the Senate from even considering a bipartisan proposal on creating an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The bill had passed the House last week with 35 Republican votes.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer offered a cloture motion on Friday to take up the proposal, which would have established an evenly divided bipartisan panel to look into the deadly attempt to overturn the 2020 election. But due to the Senate's filibuster rules, doing so required a 60-vote supermajority, and the Republican minority was able to block it.
35 of the 50 Senate Republicans voted against the cloture motion. Another nine simply skipped the vote, which had the same effect as voting no.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mitt Romney (R-UT) said earlier this week that they'd back the bill. Susan Collins (R-ME) said she would demand some changes, but would vote to at least allow debate to begin.
They and Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Ben Sasse (R-NE) joined all the Democrats present in voting to proceed. Two Democrats missed the vote.
Last week, 35 House Republicans voted for the bipartisan commission plan. It was almost identical to a January proposal offered by 31 GOP representatives and modeled on the panel created in 2002 to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
House Democrats had initially proposed an investigative panel with a Democratic majority to study this year's attack. After Republicans demanded bipartisan parity, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy enlisted New York Rep. John Katko, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Homeland Security, to reach a compromise with Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the committee chair.
Even though Katko and McCarthy (R-CA) got nearly everything they asked for — an equal number of Democratic and Republican appointees on the 10-member commission and bipartisan agreement required for any subpoenas to be issued — McCarthy refused to support it.
Donald Trump, who was impeached in the House for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection but acquitted when just seven Senate Republicans voted to convict him, demanded last Tuesday that congressional Republicans "not approve the Democrat trap of the January 6 Commission."
Soon after, the Senate GOP began to speak out against having any commission at all.
On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans would block the bill because there was little left to learn about the riots. "I do not believe the additional, extraneous commission that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts, or promote healing," he said in a floor speech. "Frankly, I do not believe it is even designed to do that."
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) blasted his GOP colleagues Thursday for their opposition, writing in a statement, "There is no excuse for any Republican to vote against this commission since Democrats have agreed to everything they asked for."
"Mitch McConnell has made this his political position, thinking it will help his 2022 elections," the conservative Democrat observed. "They do not believe the truth will set you free, so they continue to live in fear."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.