' refusal to accept a bill establishing an independent commission
to investigate the violent attack
on the United States Capitol on Jan. 6 demonstrates how difficult it is to work
with the GOP
in good faith, Democrats
argued on Thursday, and strengthens the case for filibuster reform
passed bipartisan legislation on Wednesday to establish a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot, which injured more than 100 Capitol Police
officers and killed five. Democrats agreed to nearly all GOP demands for the panel, including equal party representation, shared subpoena power, and requiring a report.
However, the bill's chances of passage in the Senate
are extremely bleak due to opposition from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell
(R-Ky.), who has labeled it "slanted."
Even Republican senators, such as North Carolina
's Richard Burr, who voted to convict former President Donald Trump
in the Jan. 6 attack during his impeachment trial
earlier this year, oppose establishing a commission, arguing that existing congressional investigations are adequate to investigate the attack.
For filibuster opponents, the GOP's hardline stance toward a panel modeled after the bipartisan 9/11 commission, which received strong bipartisan support in the House, perfectly exemplifies the need to repeal the Senate's long-standing supermajority requirement.
“It’s just another reminder that McConnell believes he has a veto over anything he wants to stop. That’s not what the founders thought when they wrote the constitution, and it’s certainly not what a Democratic majority should agree to now,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) described the possibility of a GOP filibuster on the Jan. 6 commission as “a three-dimensional way to make the point that the filibuster is primarily a destructive force in American politics
If senators can't agree on a path forward, it could be the first bill Republicans filibuster in this Congress, resulting in even more embarrassing headlines for the party.
GOP opposition to the Jan. 6 commission, fueled by their continued fear of Trump and his sway over voters
ahead of the 2022 midterm elections
, may also reinforce the argument made by some progressive Democrats that President Joe Biden
's administration should abandon efforts to reach other agreements with congressional Republicans.
This week, Biden and a group of Senate Republicans are exchanging tentative proposals for a bill overhauling the nation's infrastructure
system, but there is widespread disagreement on both sides about what constitutes infrastructure and how to pay for new infrastructure projects. Some Democrats believe Republicans will never agree to a good-faith offer, urging Biden to move on to passing a lame duck bill.
Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I-Vt.), the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee who has advocated for moving
on from bipartisan talks to pass infrastructure legislation with only Democratic votes
, told Stardia that Republican opposition to the Jan. 6 commission does not bode well for future attempts at compromise.
“If we can’t get widespread support for that, I think we’re in pretty bad shape,” Sanders said of the January 6
commission. “It just tells me what I fear is that you have a Republican Party
that is moving toward an anti-democratic party and an authoritarian party through statewide actions across this country.”
“If Republicans can't agree on a commission to investigate a violent insurgency at the Capitol, forget about their claim to want bipartisanship,” Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) added.
Even Sen. Joe Manchin
(D-WVa.), a vocal proponent of bipartisanship in the Senate, acknowledged that Democrats made significant concessions to Republicans on the Jan. 6 commission.
“How much more can you do?” asked Manchin.
Nonetheless, the West Virginia
Democrat told Stardia that a bill establishing a Jan. 6 commission has a “very, very good chance” of passing the Senate, though he did not elaborate.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
(D-NY) placed the House-passed bill on the Senate calendar on Thursday, indicating that it could be voted on the floor as soon as next week. The New York
senator expressed hope that enough Republicans would eventually come around.
“Perhaps, despite the Republican leader’s opposition, the unfortunate and sad opposition of the Republican leader,” Schumer said Thursday, “enough of my Republican colleagues will step up and join with Democrats to establish the commission, and they will have a chance to do so very soon.”