Senate Block January 6th Commission

(Photo By: REUTERS/Leah Millis)

(Photo By: REUTERS/Leah Millis)

Safa Hameed

On Friday, May 28, a bill that would have created a bipartisan committee to investigate the January 6th riots, where insurrectionists stormed into the Capitol, was blocked in the Senate.

The bill needed 60 votes to pass and it was short of six of these votes–the final was 54-35. Of the 54 votes six were from Republicans: 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. 11 senators did not vote, including two Democrats. The bill was passed in the House of Representatives with a fairly partisan vote that included 35 Republicans in 235-135.

The bill, had it passed, would have created a commission modeled after the commission created to investigate 9/11 in the early 2000’s. This includes a bipartisan committee of 10 people–five picked by Democrats and five picked by Republicans. The people picked would be independent from Congress, and the chair (a Democrat) and vice chair (a Republican) would have had to approve all subpoenas.

On the night before voting Senator Murkowski tried to push colleagues by warning against voting no for fear of losing in upcoming GOP 2022 midterm elections, “To be making a decision for the short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us, on January 6, I think we need to look at that critically.”

Democrats have not given up and are looking for other ways to launch a committee. Some have suggested a Presidential Committee created by President Biden, but Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi turned down this idea as “not a workable idea in this circumstance”. Other, options include, giving the Senate another chance to vote; however, this is very unlikely as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said “With regard to what a new commission could find out, I would remind you that this is probably the most comprehensive Justice Department investigation in the history of the country going on right now. Multiple people have been arrested, many will be prosecuted. Nobody is going to get away with anything who was involved in the incident at the Capitol on January 6th.”

It is most likely that the House of Representatives will launch their own committee. While this does have the added benefit of avoiding GOP blocking advancement toward an investigation, some have feared that this idea would cause the commission to lose some credibility due to its being partisan.