On Tuesday, the two Democrats
who oppose changing Senate filibuster
rules pleaded with Republicans
to support a bipartisan commission
to investigate the Jan. 6 riot in the United States Capitol
Sens. Joe Manchin
(D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema
(D-Ariz.) issued a joint statement calling the establishment of a commission “critical” to preventing a similar attack
in the future.
“We implore our Republican colleagues in the Senate to work
with us to find a way forward on a commission to investigate the events of January 6th,” the two senators said in a statement.
If not enough Republicans vote in favor of the bill, Manchin and Sinema will be under even more pressure to join their Democratic colleagues in repealing the Senate's legislative filibuster, which requires a supermajority of 60 senators to overcome.
Last week, the House passed legislation to create a 10-member panel of outside experts, with five appointed by Democrats and five by Republicans, to investigate what went wrong on Jan. 6 and make policy recommendations to prevent it from happening again.
The bill was written by Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.), the top lawmakers on the Homeland Security Committee. It received support from 35 Republicans.
However, Senate Republicans overwhelmingly oppose the bill, arguing that existing congressional investigations are adequate to investigate the attack, despite the fact that Congress has previously established special commissions to supplement its own committee work.
Republicans are also concerned that a months-long investigation will enrage former President Donald Trump
and harm their political prospects in next year's midterm elections
. Trump has recently lashed out at the commission, saying that "unless the murders, riots, and fire bombings in Portland, Minneapolis
, Seattle, Chicago, and New York
are also studied, this discussion should be ended immediately."
Democrats will need at least ten Republicans to join them in bringing the bill to the floor, where it could be voted on as soon as this week, which is unlikely at the moment.
Only a few Republican senators who voted to convict Trump in the Jan. 6 attack have expressed interest in the bill. Some, such as Susan Collins
and Mitt Romney
, say they support the concept in general but want more changes to the commission's structure. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has said she will support the bill.
Other Republican senators who voted to convict Trump in the Jan. 6 attack, such as North Carolina
's Richard Burr and Pennsylvania
's Pat Toomey, are either outright opposed or undecided.
If senators cannot reach an agreement, it may become the first bill in Congress that Republicans filibuster.
Republicans have been publicly effusive in their praise for Manchin and Sinema's stance on preserving the filibuster, which they argue is critical to the institution of the Senate as a whole, and some GOP-aligned groups have even run ads in their home states thanking the two Democrats.
Manchin, on the other hand, has stated that he will not support repealing the filibuster even if Republicans block the commission bill on January 6th.
“I can't take the fallout,” he told reporters on Thursday.
Filibuster opponents are keeping a close eye on the debate over the Jan. 6 commission and the bipartisan talks on an infrastructure
overhaul, which appear to be hitting a snag. Republicans are trading offers with the White House
, but the two sides are still very far apart on reaching an agreement on President Joe Biden
's proposed bipartisan infrastructure and jobs
“If Senator McConnell and his caucus are willing to use the filibuster to block a bipartisan bill to form a bipartisan commission to investigate an attack on the United States Congress, it should be clear that there is nothing they will work with Democrats on in good faith,” said Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for the advocacy group Fix Our Senate.