Efforts to create an independent inquiry to investigate the deadly January 6 Capitol Hill riot failed Friday after Senate Republicans blocked the vote. The bill fell short of the 10 Republican votes needed to advance and illustrated the GOP’s desire to move on from the insurrection which left five people dead and 140 police officers injured.
The vote, 54 to 35, confirmed that the bill had a bipartisan majority of support with six Republicans voting with Democrats. However, the bill needed 60 votes to advance. The six GOP senators who backed the bill included: Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Rob Portman of Ohio, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Nine Republican senators and two Democrats did not vote.
The Republican opposition highlights the stranglehold which former President Donald Trump still has on most of his party and illustrates the deep partisan divide surrounding the fallout of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, a critical point which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made following the vote.
The New York Democrat said the Republican minority “just mounted a partisan filibuster against an independent commission to report on January 6.”
“This vote has made it official: Donald Trump’s ‘Big Lie’ has now fully enveloped the Republican Party,” Schumer added.
The tally of Republican supporters was one fewer than the seven GOP senators who voted to convict Trump at his second impeachment trial earlier this year. Republican Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania did not vote. Toomey’s office told reporters he missed the procedural vote due to a family commitment but said if he had been in Washington, he would have voted to advance the legislation. Burr had said ahead of Friday that he opposed the bill. Portman did not vote to convict Trump in February.
Schumer signaled on Friday that Democrats should move forward with a select committee to investigate the January 6 attack because “facts must come out.”
The key vote had been expected as early as Thursday but due to the order of Senate procedure that vote had to wait until the previous legislation was cleared. Republican senators have delayed overnight passage of a massive bill designed to increase American competitiveness with China and that means the key procedural vote on a bill to create the January 6 commission has to wait. That impasse was solved Friday morning when senators agreed to bring the vote back up after a one-week recess for the Memorial Day holiday.
Supporters of the January 6 commission, including the mother of a Capitol Police officer who died the day after the riot, pleaded with GOP senators throughout the week in order to convince at least 10 Republicans to back the plan.
Murkowski, took aim at her GOP colleagues Thursday night for moving to block the measure and remained critical of the rationale by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The mother of fallen U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick met with more than a dozen Republican senators, including Murkowski, urging them to vote to establish the commission. But even after those meetings, which two sources familiar said were cordial, most of the senators told her they wouldn’t be changing their minds.