These six Senate Republicans defied Trump to back Capitol riot commission

GOP lawmakers block bipartisan probe to investigate depth of attack fuelled by former president’s false election claims

Alex Woodward
New York
Friday 28 May 2021 18:58
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Mother of Capitol officer killed urges GOP to back commission

Senate Republicans have blocked a measure to begin a bipartisan congressional commission to investigate the Capitol riot, with only six Republicans voting to begin debate on the proposal before a final vote.

That measure failed by a vote of 54-35, marking the first successful legislative filibuster in this Congress, effectively killing a bipartisan probe that lawmakers modelled after the commission in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. Eleven senators – nearly all Republicans, with the exception of two Democrats – skipped the vote. It needed 60 votes to move forward in the evenly divided chamber.

Five of the six Senate Republicans who backed the measure also voted to convict Donald Trump during his second impeachment trial.

Bill Cassidy, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse defied objections from the former president and Republican leadership in Congress to advance the commission, which would create a bipartisan group to probe the events leading up to and surrounding the 6 January insurrection, fulled by Mr Trump’s “stolen election” narrative, and its aftermath.

Mr Portman did not vote to convict Mr Trump.

Richard Burr, who did, said in a statement last week that he opposes a commission, pointing to parallel efforts at the US Department of Justice and hearings in other congressional committees.

Senator Cassidy told CNN that “the investigations will happen with or without Republicans.”

“To ensure the investigations are fair, impartial, and focused on facts, Republicans need to be involved,” he said.

Senator Murkowski pleaded with GOP lawmakers on Thursday and sought to shame Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for encouraging objections over “short-term political gain” rather than confronting what happened on 6 January, with gaping holes remaining in the timeline of the law enforcement response and what the administration and lawmakers knew that day.

“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 [6 January], I think we need to look at that critically,” she told reporters on Thursday night. “Is that really what this is about, one election cycle after another?”

She added: “Or are we going to acknowledge that as a country that is based on these principles of democracy that we hold so dear.”

Senator Pat Toomey skipped the vote; a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Republican said he had a “family commitment” but would have voted to advance the measure.

He was among 11 senators were not present for the vote, including nine Republicans and two Democrats: Patty Murray and Kyrsten Sinema.

Mr Trump, Senator McConnell and House Republican leadership objected to the commission. Thirty-five House Republicans voted to support the proposal, which passed the House of Representatives last week.

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