blocked bipartisan legislation on Friday that would have established an independent 9/11-style commission
to investigate the Jan. 6 attack
on the United States
Capitol by Donald Trump supporters
, putting Democratic holdouts on the filibuster
to the test.
Even after the family of a Capitol Police
officer who died a day after the attack urged Republican senators to support a commission, the vote against opening debate on the bill took place.
It was also the second time since the violent insurgency in the nation's capital that congressional Republicans have shielded the former president from accountability for events earlier this year.
“If we can't agree on an independent commission to investigate the first armed insurgency at the Capitol in our nation's history, then something is seriously wrong, and that something is the filibuster,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren
The bill passed by a vote of 54 to 35, but due to filibuster rules, it required 60 votes
to move forward to further debate. Only six Republican senators joined Democrats
in supporting the measure's advancement: Lisa Murkowski
, Mitt Romney
, Susan Collins
, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana
, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Rob Portman of Ohio
Several senators did not vote, most likely because they were out of town for the Memorial Day
Many Republicans insisted prior to the vote that a commission was unnecessary, despite the fact that there are still questions about the attack.
“The role of the former president was already litigated exhaustively in the high-profile impeachment trial
several months ago,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
(R-Ky.), who voted to acquit Trump in that trial, said before the vote. “I do not believe the additional, extraneous commission that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts or promote healing.
A Capitol riot
commission could provide an authoritative account of the day and answer lingering questions, such as where the ex-president was and why the National Guard
did not arrive for hours.
However, any new information uncovered by the commission about the Jan. 6 riot would be inconvenient for a party that is still actively relying on Trump and his supporters to retake control of Congress in next year's midterm elections
. Despite what happened on Jan. 6, Republican voters
continue to overwhelmingly support Trump and his policies; most believe he did nothing wrong.
Republicans also argue that congressional committees and the Justice Department
are already digging into what happened, but that was true before Congress established a commission to investigate the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The bipartisan legislation Republicans filibustered Thursday was modeled after the 9/11 commission bill.
“That is different in terms of the magnitude of what occurred and the loss of life, as well as the fact that it was initiated from afar,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said Thursday when asked if he thought the 9/11 commission was partisan.
Opponents claimed the commission would end up being partisan, despite Democrats conceding to nearly all GOP
demands in drafting the bill. The panel would have been equally divided among credible experts selected by both parties, wit
“It’s even Steven. You pick one, I pick one,” Murkowski said, arguing for the creation of an independent commission.
Democrats have warned that unless there is a full accounting of the events of January 6
, it is entirely possible that they will occur again; after all, Republicans across the country are codifying Trump's election fraud lies in new state voting restrictions.
“My concern is that these groups are still out there, their grievances are still very real, and the president continues to fuel them,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
Sen. Josh Hawley
(R-MO), the first senator to announce he would object to the election results based on voter fraud lies and a flimsy claim that Pennsylvania
Republicans allegedly failed to follow their own state constitution by allowing too many mail-in ballots, told Stardia on Thursday that if a Democrat wins, he would be open to objecting again in 2024.
“It depends on the circumstances,” he explained.
The Republican blockade of the Jan. 6 commission, which has bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, will put more pressure on Democrats to go nuclear and abolish the Senate filibuster, the institution's longstanding supermajority requirement for legislation.
It's only a matter of time before Democrats face a reckoning over the filibuster, with items on their agenda that enjoy less bipartisan support, such as gun control
and voting rights
However, Sen. Joe Manchin
(D-W.Va.), a key holdout from a state Trump won by nearly 40 points in the 2020 election
, insists he will never vote to end the filibuster, even after the fight over the Jan. 6 commission.
“I don’t think I’ll ever change,” Manchin said, adding, “I’m not separating our country, OK? I don’t know what you all don’t understand about this; you ask the same question every day, and it’s wrong.”