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Senate Democrats were unable to garner enough GOP support to pass legislation to establish an independent, “9/11-style” commission to investigate the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol, with just six Republicans voting in favor of the measure Friday.
The bill — which passed the House in a 252-175 vote last week with the support of 35 GOP lawmakers — was blocked from moving forward in a procedural 54-35 vote, failing to meet the 60-vote threshold to overcome the filibuster.
Republicans Mitt Romney, Susan Collins, Bill Cassidy, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman and Ben Sasse joined the Democrats. Eleven senators missed the rare Friday vote.
While the measure faced an uphill battle in the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) vowed to hold a vote, asserting that “the commission is an urgent, necessary idea to safeguard our democracy.”
Under the House-passed bill — which was negotiated between Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Ranking Member John Katko (R-NY) — each party would have selected five commissioners with expertise in national security and law enforcement to look into the security shortcomings that allowed a mob of pro-Trump rioters to breach the Capitol building in an attempt to disrupt the certification of the election results.
Current government officials would have been prohibited from serving on the commission, which would have been tasked with issuing a report by the end of the year with its findings and recommendations to prevent similar instances of violence in the future.
Despite the measure closely mirroring the House GOP’s counter-proposal to the parameters Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for earlier this year, top Republicans argued that it gave Democrats an unfair advantage and could potentially hinder ongoing investigations being carried out by by other law enforcement entities.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-Ky.) came out against the measure shortly before its passage in the House, stating in a floor speech that he “made the decision to oppose the House Democrats’ slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of Jan. 6.”
Other Republicans voiced concerns that the probe could last into 2022, potentially becoming an election issue, and that the bill could have led to Democrats hiring a disproportionate number of the commission’s staff.
“This commission could go on for years, and so I don’t think it’s necessary,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters on Tuesday.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) attempted to broker a deal with Democrats to amend the measure to address Republican concerns, but it was ultimately not enough to sway nine of her GOP colleagues needed for the measure to pass.
“I want to have a commission. The House bill needs to be improved. And one of the flaws of the House bill is that it has the chairman essentially appointing all of the staff,” Collins said. “For the commission to be successful it has to be nonpartisan and we know that if it’s stacked with partisan staff that it will get off to a bad start.”
Gladys Sicknick — the mother of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick who was killed as a result of injuries suffered in the Jan. 6 attack — met with senators before the vote, calling on them to support the measure,
“I suggest that all Congressmen and Senators who are against this Bill visit my son’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery and, while there, think about what their hurtful decisions will do to those officers who will be there for them going forward,” she said in a statement.
Democrats slammed Republicans for voting against the measure, alleging they were hindering Congress’ ability to obtain vital information on the attack to protect the former president.
“Look, I am sorry if an independent commission to study an attack on our democracy isn’t a Republican ad maker’s idea of a good time. This is too important,” Schumer said ahead of the vote.
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