US Senate Republicans block Jan. 6 commission bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Senate Republicans on Friday halted efforts to create an independent commission for investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S Capitol.

While most senators voted for the bipartisan commission, the 54-35 vote was not enough to overcome a GOP-led filibuster, in which 60 votes are required to move most legislation forward in the 100-seat chamber.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., joined Democratic colleagues in supporting an end to the debate, while Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., was one of 35 Republicans in opposition. Six Republicans — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Rob Portman of Ohio — joined Democrats. Eleven senators did not vote.

The House of Representatives voted last week for creating such panel, which would have looked at the riot led by Donald Trump supporters. The leading members of the House Homeland Security Committee worked on House Resolution 3233, which would have allowed commissioners to hold public hearings, request evidence and issue subpoenas as part of its investigation.

Manchin, a supporter of maintaining the filibuster, criticized the Senate following the vote.

“Before Jan. 6, 2021, an attack on Congress and democracy at our Capitol at the hands of our own citizens was unimaginable. In the 240-plus years of our great nation’s history, we have never seen an attack of this nature. Not even during our nation’s horrific Civil War did this happen. This was our chance to have a bipartisan commission that would allow for an impartial investigation into the events of that horrific day so we are better able to prevent another attack on our nation,” he said.

Manchin previously criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Thursday, accusing McConnell of putting Republicans’ chances in the 2022 election over the country’s needs.

“Choosing to put politics and political elections above the health of our democracy is unconscionable. And the betrayal of the oath we each take is something they will have to live with,” Manchin said Friday.

“To the brave Capitol police officers who risk their lives every single day to keep us safe, the Capitol and congressional staff that work around the clock to keep Congress running, even the reporters who work hard to deliver Congressional news to the American people, and every American who watched in horror as our Capitol was attacked on Jan. 6, you deserve better,” he added. “I am sorry that my Republican colleagues and friends let political fear prevent them from doing what they know in their hearts to be right.”

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. (File)

Capito told reporters Thursday she would oppose the legislation, noting active congressional investigations related to security at the Capitol building.

“I do believe, unfortunately, that the commission has been politicized and that Democrats would pick the staff,” she said. “I think that’s problematic from my point of view, and I don’t know that the investigation would ever end.”

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., was one of 35 House Republicans that voted for the commission. Reps. Alex Mooney and Carol Miller joined most Republican colleagues in opposing the bill.

“The events at the Capitol on January 6 were horrific and cannot be ignored. A fair bipartisan investigation will help us get to the bottom of what happened that day and understand the factors that contributed to it, including the media, social media, and overheated rhetoric by both parties,” McKinley said in a statement about the May 19 vote.

“We were faced with an up or down vote, with no ability to amend it. Hopefully, this proposal will be considered in the Senate with the ability to offer amendments to improve it. If the commission activities become too partisan, the Republican members could just walk away or not sign the final report. Congress has always investigated major events, including 9/11 and Benghazi in recent years. January 6 should be no different.”

The January attack halted the certification of the presidential election results. Four rioters died during the violence, and Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick collapsed while engaging with protesters and died the following day. Two other officers killed themselves.

More than 400 people face charges for their alleged actions, including former West Virginia Delegate Derrick Evans, Morgantown sandwich shop operator George Tanios and former Parkersburg City Councilmember Eric Barber.

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