Senate Republicans blocked the creation of a special committee to study the deadly Jan.6 attack on Capitol Hill, dashing hopes of a bipartisan panel amid a Republican push to end the violent partisan insurgency by Donald Trump.
Republicans have killed the effort to set up a 9/11-style investigation into the attack on Capitol Hill by a pro-Trump mob despite widespread popular support for such an investigation and appeals from the family of an officer of Capitol police who collapsed and died after the siege and other officers who fought off the rioters.
In a procedural vote in the Senate on Friday, six Republican senators broke ranks to support the commission, which was more than expected, but four fewer than the 10 needed to overcome a filibuster and move forward.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has condemned fellow Republicans for blocking a bipartisan commission. “Shame on the Republican Party for trying to sweep the horrors of this day under the rug because it is afraid of Donald Trump,” Schumer said in a Senate speech immediately after the vote.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, argued that the committee’s vote on the bill had “shamed” the Senate and would make the country less secure. She said House committees, which are under Democratic leadership, would continue to investigate the attack. “Democrats will continue to uncover the truth,” Pelosi said.
The insurgency was the worst attack on Capitol Hill in 200 years and interrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s victory over Trump.
But the Republican Party remains firmly in the grip of Trump, who had expressed very clearly his opposition to the commission. Observers believe senior party officials do not want to anger the former president or his legion of supporters, and may also fear what the commission might find out in terms of links between some of the rioters and Republican lawmakers.
Although the commission’s bill was passed in the House earlier this month with the support of nearly three dozen Republicans, Republican senators said they believed the commission would eventually be used against them politically. .
Trump called this a “Democratic trap.”
While initially saying he was open to the idea of the commission, the Republican Senate leader, Mitch McConnell, has firmly opposed it in recent days. He said he believed the panel’s investigation would be partisan despite the even division among party members. McConnell, who once said Trump was responsible for provoking the mob attack on Capitol Hill, said of Democrats: “They would like to continue to plead for the former president in the future. “
The Republican opposition to the bipartisan panel has rekindled Democratic pressure to end filibustering, an age-old Senate tradition that requires a vote of 60 of 100 senators to interrupt debate and move a bill forward.
With the Senate also split 50-50, Democrats needed the support of 10 Republicans to pass the committee’s bill as Republicans cited filibuster. The episode sparked further debate on whether the time is right to change the rules and lower the threshold to 51 votes to pass legislation.
Democrats got just 54 votes by the time the vote was voted on on Friday.
Friday’s vote marked the first official use by Senate Republicans of filibuster to defeat a bill, and Schumer said he hoped it wasn’t the start of a Republicans trend. to block “reasonable and common sense legislation”.
The six Republicans who voted for the commission to proceed were Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Rob Portman of Ohio.
A spokesperson for Republican Senator Pat Toomey told HuffPost he was not in Washington for the committee’s vote on the bill due to a family obligation. However, the spokesperson said Toomey would have voted in favor of initiating debate on the bill.
Senator Elizabeth Warren said on Twitter: “If Senate Republicans can block an independent commission investigating a deadly armed attack on Capitol Hill because it could hurt their insurgent polls, then something is wrong in the Senate. We must get rid of filibuster to protect our democracy. “
The Republicans’ political arguments over the violent siege – which is still crude for many on Capitol Hill almost five months later – have frustrated not only Democrats but also those who repelled the rioters.
Michael Fanone, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department who responded to the attack, said between meetings with Republican senators that a commission is “necessary so that we can heal as a nation from the trauma that we all have. lived that day ”. Fanone described being dragged down the steps of the Capitol by rioters who shocked him with a stun gun and beat him.
“So I don’t understand why they would resist getting to the bottom of what happened that day and fully understanding how to prevent it. It confuses me, ”she said.
Video of the riots shows two men spraying Sicknick and another officer with a chemical, but the Washington medical examiner said he suffered a stroke and died of natural causes.