WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate
delayed action on a bill to establish an independent commission
to investigate Donald Trump supporters
' deadly Jan. 6 attack
on the Capitol.
intend to filibuster
the bill, but delays on another unrelated bill prevented the Senate from holding a procedural vote on Thursday as planned.
Even as the family of a Capitol Police
officer who collapsed and died during the siege and other officers who fought rioters urged them to support the commission, there were no signs that GOP
opposition had softened. The insurgency was the worst attack on the Capitol in 200 years, disrupting the certification of Democrat Joe Biden
's victory over Trump.
Despite the fact that the commission bill passed the House
earlier this month with the support of nearly three dozen Republicans, GOP senators said they believe it will be used against them politically in the future, and Trump, who still has a firm grip on the party, has called it a “Democrat trap.”
The expected vote exemplifies the profound distrust between the two parties since the siege, which has sowed deeper divisions on Capitol Hill despite the fact that lawmakers from both parties fled together from the rioters that day. The events of Jan. 6 have become an increasingly fraught topic among Republicans, with some in the party downplaying the violence and defending the rioters who supported T.
While initially saying he was open to the idea of the commission, which would be modeled after an investigation
into the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell
has recently come out strongly against it, claiming that the panel's investigation would be partisan despite the even split among party members.
McConnell, who once blamed Trump for inciting the Capitol mob attack, said of Democrats
, "They'd like to continue to litigate the former president, into the future."
Nonetheless, a handful of Republicans — if not enough to save the bill — were expected to vote to advance it. Alaska
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
has stated that she will support the legislation because she wants to know more about what happened that day and why.
“Truth is difficult to face, but we have a responsibility to do so,” she told reporters Thursday evening. “We can't pretend that nothing bad happened, or that people
were simply overly excitable. Something bad happened, and it's important to lay it out.”
Murkowski stated that some of her colleagues who oppose the commission are concerned about "rocking the boat
Republicans' opposition to the bipartisan panel has reignited Democratic pressure to end the filibuster, a time-honored Senate tradition that requires a vote by 60 of the 100 senators to end debate and advance a bill. With the Senate evenly divided 50-50, Democrats need the support of 10 Republicans to move forward with the commission bill.
Republicans' political arguments over the violent siege, which is still fresh in the minds of many in the Capitol almost five months later, have irritated not only Democrats but also those who fought off the rioters.
Between meetings with Republican senators, Michael Fanone
, a Metropolitan Police Department officer who responded to the attack, said a commission is "necessary for us to heal as a nation from the trauma that we all experienced that day." Fanone has described being dragged down the Capitol steps by rioters who shocked him with a stun gun
and beat him.
Sandra Garza, the partner of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick
, who collapsed and died after battling the rioters, said of the Republican senators, "You know they are here today and with their families and comfortable because of law enforcement's actions that day."
“So it just boggles my mind why they would resist getting to the bottom of what happened that day and fully understanding how to prevent it,” she explained.
The video shows two men spraying Sicknick and another officer with a chemical, but the Washington medical examiner said he died of natural causes after suffering a stroke.
, Sicknick's mother, attended the meetings with Garza. In a statement released Wednesday, Mrs. Sicknick suggested that opponents of the commission "visit my son's grave in Arlington National Cemetery and, while there, think about what their hurtful decisions will do to those officers who will be there for them going forward."
Dozens of other police officers were injured as rioters pushed past them, breaking through windows and doors and looking for lawmakers. Protesters built a mock gallows in front of the Capitol and called for the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence
, who was overseeing the certification of the presidential vote. Four protesters were killed, including a woman who was shot and killed by police.
“We have a mob overtake the Capitol, and we can't get the Republicans to join us in making a historic record of that event? That is sad,” said Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat. “That tells you what's wrong with the Senate and what's wrong with the filibuster.”
Many Democrats are warning that if Republicans are willing to use the filibuster to stop an arguably popular bill, it demonstrates the limits of attempting to broker compromises, particularly on bills related to election
reform or other aspects of the Democrats' agenda.
For the time being, however, Democrats lack the votes
to change the rule. Both West Virginia
Sen. Joe Manchin
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema
, both moderate Democrats, have stated their desire to keep the filibuster in place.
When asked about the commission during a stop in Cleveland on Thursday, Biden stated, "I can't imagine anyone voting
Senator John Cornyn, who once supported the commission's idea, now believes Democrats are attempting to use it as a political tool.
“I don’t think this is the only way to get to the bottom of what happened,” Cornyn said, noting that the siege is being investigated by Senate committees as well.
This article was contributed to by Associated Press
writers Alan Fram, Colleen Long, and Padmananda Rama.