Manchin and Sinema challenge Senate GOP not to block Capitol riot commission

Both senators oppose reforming filibuster as critical Democratic agenda items at risk

Alex Woodward
New York
Tuesday 25 May 2021 20:01
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Mitch McConnell opposes law creating Capitol riot commission

Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema – two crucial swing votes in an evenly divided Senate – have urged Republican lawmakers to support a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol insurrection, as GOP leadership resists a probe into the events leading up to and surrounding the riot.

Neither senator supports significant filibuster reforms, even if it means losing critical measures on the Democratic agenda, including voting rights protections, investments to infrastructure and social safety nets, and a commission to investigate the attack on Congress on 6 January.

Asked on Tuesday whether he would support revising filibuster rules as Republicans prepare to block the commission, Senator Manchin said, “No.”

“I can’t take the fallout,” he said, laughing.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, the senators said: “We implore our Senate Republican colleagues to work with us to find a path forward on a commission to examine the events of January 6th.”

Despite bipartisan makeup on the commission, and an opaque timeline and understanding of what the administration and law enforcement knew, four months later, about the events surrounding the assault, Republican lawmakers – including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – have rejected the proposal.

GOP lawmakers have downplayed the riot, fuelled by Donald Trump’s false “stolen election” narrative, and deflected to accusing Democrats of ignoring protest violence in US cities in 2020.

The House of Representatives voted 252-175 on 19 May to support the formation of a commission, with 35 House Republicans breaking from their party leadership in support.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy announced his opposition to the commission on 18 May. That night, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said he would whip his GOP colleagues against it. Senator McConnell announced he was “undecided” on a vote that night.

Then, the former president issued a statement raging against the commission proposal, pushing Republicans to “get much tougher” and echoing the deflection among GOP lawmakers to instead investigate “murders, riots and fire bombings” in cities run by Democrats.

“Hopefully, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are listening!” he said.

On Wednesday morning, Senator McConnell announced his opposition to what he called a “slanted and unbalanced proposal” from House Democrats.

“It’s not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could lay on top of the existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress,” he said on the Senate floor.

“What is clear is that House Democrats have handled this proposal in partisan bad faith going right back to the beginning, from initially offering a laughably partisan starting point to continuing to insist on various other features under the hood that are designed to centralise control over the commission’s process and its conclusions in Democratic hands.”

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