Senate blocks Jan. 6 commission

By Morgan Miles, Staff Writer
A vote for an independent investigation into Jan. 6 failed after only 54 of the 60 necessary Senators voted yes. 
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The Senate blocked an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, preventing further bipartisan investigation efforts.  

This block marks the GOP’s first filibuster since Democrats have taken control of the upper chamber of Congress. Votes concluded on May 28 with 54 in favor of pressing forward with the investigative commission and 35 against. Sixty votes in favor were necessary to pass the bill.  

The Jan. 6 commission was modeled after a bill from two decades ago which called for an investigation of the Bush administration’s lack of preparation for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

Six Republican Senators voted yes to support the majority Democratic side: Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah). Each of these Republicans who voted for the commission, except Portman, also supported the impeachment of former president Donald Trump.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) missed the vote due to family commitments but claimed he would have voted in favor of the commission. However, Democrats still needed 10 Republicans to side with their request to prevent blockage of the bill in the Senate. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) did not vote.

In the House, 35 GOP members voted to push the investigation forward, while the rest voted against the commission. 

Democrats including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer argued that Republicans blocked the legislation due to concerns about midterm elections and pressure from Trump. 

“Donald Trump’s big lie has now enveloped the Republican Party,” Schumer said.

Schumer believes that an inquiry into the insurrection could threaten future Republican election successes. 

The 2022 midterm elections will challenge every House seat and 34 of the 100 Senate seats. Incumbent Republicans may remain loyal to the party and Trump, seeing this as an electoral advantage. 

Republican Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, an adamant opponent of the bill, has spoken about the voting on the commission, calling it a “purely political exercise.”

“I’ll continue to urge my colleagues to oppose this extraneous layer when the time comes for the Senate to vote,” McConnell stated before the vote. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi replied, saying: “Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans’ denial of the truth of the January 6 insurrection brings shame to the Senate…Republicans’ cowardice in rejecting the truth of that dark day makes our Capitol and our country less safe.”

Commentators have lamented that the grasp of politics has overridden pleas for bipartisanship. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) affirmed that the bill “was done in the most bipartisan way.” 

Since the vote, ideas for independent committees to further investigate the Capitol riot have surfaced. Meanwhile, several criminal investigations regarding the Jan. 6 insurrection are ongoing, which Democrats hope is a sign for a future committee. 

The status of creating a new investigative committee remains unknown.