(Headline USA) Senate Republicans on Friday blocked creation of a panel to study the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol, turning aside a politicized spectacle wanted by Democrat leaders in the guise of an “independent investigation.”
The so-called Jan. 6 commission is designed by Democrat leaders to serve as a form of a “third impeachment” trial of former President Donald Trump, who Democrats blame for “incitement” of a “riot” on the Capitol.
The Senate vote was 54-35 — short of the 60 votes needed to take up a House-passed bill that would have formed a 10-member commission evenly split between the two parties, although staff support was not promised to be balanced.
Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma said plenty of investigations of the Jan. 6 siege have been well underway:
Senate Committees have already gathered information and heard testimony from the Department of Homeland Security, Secret Service, the Department of Justice, FBI, ATF, the Department of Defense, the Architect of the Capitol, US Capitol Police, the National Guard, the DC Mayor and Metropolitan Police, and both former Sergeants at Arms. Unlike the House, which is on a mission to seek tabloid-style testimony, the Senate Committees are focused on improving the safety and security of the US Capitol by addressing the serious needs and support for the US Capitol Police. While the House fought over how to form a bipartisan Commission, the Senate actually completed its bipartisan work without fanfare or drama.
Six Republicans voted with Democrats to move forward with the commission. Eleven senators missed the rare Friday vote.
Though the Jan. 6 commission bill passed the House earlier this month with the support of almost three dozen Republicans, GOP senators said the commission would only be a process to demonize peaceful Trump supporters. And Trump has called it a “Democrat trap.”
The vote is emblematic of the profound mistrust between the two parties since the siege, especially among Republicans, as some in the party have downplayed any violence at the Capitol in January, some of which was clearly instigated by Antifa infiltrators.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell has said he believes the panel’s investigation would be partisan despite the even split among party members.
McConnell said of Democrats, “They’d like to continue to litigate the former president, into the future.”
Still, six in his caucus defied him, arguing that an independent look is needed.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a frequent Trump foe whom the former president has said he will oppose in her re-election effort next year, said Thursday evening that she needs to know more about what happened that day and why.
“Truth is hard stuff, but we’ve got a responsibility to it,” she told reporters. “We just can’t pretend that nothing bad happened, or that people just got too excitable. Something bad happened. And it’s important to lay that out.”
GOP opposition to the panel has revived Democratic pressure to do away with the filibuster, a time-honored Senate tradition that requires a vote by 60 of the 100 senators to cut off debate and advance a bill. With the Senate evenly split 50-50, Democrats need support of 10 Republicans to move to the commission bill.
The Republicans’ political arguments over the siege have frustrated not only Democrats but also those who fought off the few rioters, despite the “siege” being composed mostly of peaceful Trump supporters who strolled through the Capitol unopposed and unconfronted.
Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn said he believes Democrats are trying to use the commission 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 Senate committees are also looking at the siege.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.