The U.S. Senate on Friday failed to create a national bipartisan commission to study the Jan. 6 siege on the U.S. Capitol by documented supporters of former president Donald Trump. A bill to create such a commission, sponsored by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and co-sponsored by Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), sailed through the House of Representatives before stalling in the Senate. The requisite 60 votes necessary in the Senate failed to materialize when the time for a vote came on Friday morning.
The harshly worded, 20-page measure referred to the siege as a “domestic terrorist attack.” It would, if passed, have set up a so-called “National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex.”
Among the commission’s responsibilities would have been as follows.
To investigate and report upon the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex (hereafter referred to as the “domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol”) and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power, including facts and causes relating to the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement in the National Capitol Region and other instrumentality of government, as well as the influencing factors that fomented such attack on American representative democracy while engaged in a constitutional process.
The full 20-page bill said the probe would have proceeded “in a manner that is respectful of ongoing law enforcement activities and investigations.” It would also have been designed to “build upon the investigations of other entities and avoid unnecessary duplication” with other investigations.
A final “report to the President and Congress” would have included “findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures that may include changes in law, policy, procedures, rules, or regulations that could be taken to prevent future acts of targeted violence and domestic terrorism, including to prevent domestic terrorist attacks against American democratic institutions.”
The commission’s chairperson would have been jointly selected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). A vice-chairperson would have been selected by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Other members of the 10-person panel would have been selected by various congressional leaders on an equal basis, with Republicans selecting five members and Democrats selecting five members of the final group.
No current government employees would have been eligible to serve. However, the panel would have been made up of “prominent United States citizens, with national recognition and significant depth of experience” in at least two of the following professional categories:
(A) Governmental service.
(B) Law enforcement.
(C) Civil rights, civil liberties, and privacy.
(D) The Armed Forces.
The House vote was 252 to 175, with all Democrats present voting in favor of the bill and some Republicans joining them. All of the 175 votes against the bill were Republicans. Two Democrats and one Republican did not vote.
Only Republicans voted against the measure in the Senate. However, six Republican senators voted in favor of the formation of the commission: Mitt Romney (Utah), Susan Collins (Maine), Bill Cassidy (Louisiana), Rob Portman (Ohio), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), and Ben Sasse (Nebraska) all said yes.
Two democrats and nine Republicans didn’t vote at all in the Senate. The Republicans who didn’t vote were Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee), Roy Blunt (Missouri), Mike Braun (Indiana), Richard Burr (North Carolina), Jim Inhofe (Oklahoma), James Risch (Idaho), Mike Rounds (South Dakota), Richard Shelby (Alabama), and Pat Toomey (Pennylvania). The Democrats who didn’t vote were Patty Murray (Washington) and Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona).
Sen. McConnell said Thursday that he supported investigating what occurred at the Capitol Complex on Jan. 6 — but not in the form proffered by the now-defeated bill.
“I do not believe the additional, extraneous ‘commission’ that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts or promote healing. Frankly, I do not believe it is even designed to,” McConnell said. “That’s why the Speaker’s first draft began with a laughably rigged and partisan starting point, and why the current language would still lock in significant unfairness under the hood. So I’ll continue to support the real, serious work of our criminal justice system and our own Senate committees. And I’ll continue to urge my colleagues to oppose this extraneous layer when the time comes for the Senate to vote.”
Sen. Schumer’s tweets echoed what he said on the Senate floor shortly before the vote.
“Donald Trump’s Big Lie has now fully enveloped the Republican Party,” he tweeted. “Donald Trump’s Big Lie is now the defining principle of what was once the party of Lincoln.”
Schumer earlier said that Republicans were afraid that Trump’s “Big Lie” would be “dispelled” by a bipartisan commission.
Donald Trump’s Big Lie has now fully enveloped the Republican Party.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 28, 2021
Donald Trump’s Big Lie is now the defining principle of what was once the party of Lincoln.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 28, 2021
Read the complete rejected bill below.
[image via YouTube screengrab]
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