Democratic leaders in the Senate want to vote again on a bill to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol attack that fell short of the support needed from 10 Republicans last month – but even some Republicans who supported it see it as a lost cause.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday a new Senate report on the attack that leaves unanswered questions has “strengthened” the case for a commission, noting he reserves the right to bring it up for another vote.
But Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who voted for the commission, is not an automatic “yes,” telling Forbes Schumer would “undermine the credibility” of the commission and affirm GOP allegations it’s a “political tool” if he brought it up again without a clear indication it will pass.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), another of the six Senate Republicans who voted for it, said the first vote made it “pretty clear that we didn’t have the support,” and that there would “have to be something that would be cause for a relook.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said he supports a second vote but indicated there is no plan to get more Republicans on board, expressing hope they’ll “take a look around at the… Capitol Police force risking their lives for us” and have a change of heart.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), the only Republican to vote against the commission after voting to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, told Forbes he is “firmly a ‘no’” on the commission.
“It wouldn’t change my vote,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Forbes of a second commission vote, while Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said another vote wouldn’t “serve any useful purpose.”
54. That’s the number of senators who voted to advance the commission bill last month, short of the necessary 60 to overcome a filibuster. Three senators who said they supported the commission – Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) – did not vote. Toomey told Forbes he would vote for the commission again but added, “I don’t think that matters much, we know what the outcome would be.”
A 128-page report by two Senate committees released Tuesday shed new light on the shortcomings of the intelligence community in warning about the attack, but it left major unanswered questions on the culpability of former President Donald Trump and other political leaders. Many Democrats believe those can only be answered by the commission, which would have the power to subpoena witnesses and fewer political constraints than a congressional committee.
Most Republicans argued the commission would be an unnecessary supplement to ongoing congressional hearings and a Department of Justice probe – despite the narrow scope of both. “Today’s report is one of the many reasons I am confident in the ability of existing investigations,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) attempted to alleviate the concerns of some Republicans who alleged the commission would be too partisan with an amendment to ensure Republican and Democratic appointees had equal say over staff and that the commission didn’t spill over into the 2022 midterms. That got some Republicans, like Cassidy and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), on board, but not enough for it to pass.
What To Watch For
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in a letter to House Democrats on Tuesday, reiterated her hope that the commission will pass but added, “If not, we will be prepared to seek and find the truth of the assault on the Capitol.” Pelosi has floated empowering a single standing committee to take charge of the Jan. 6 probe or impaneling a Benghazi-style select committee as two possible options.
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