Senate Republicans use filibuster to block Jan. 6 commission

Protesters storm the U.S. Capitol and halt a joint session of the 117th Congress on Jan. 6,. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Protesters storm the U.S. Capitol and halt a joint session of the 117th Congress on Jan. 6,. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Credit: TNS

WASHINGTON — All but six Senate Republicans voted against moving forward on legislation to create a national commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, effectively killing the measure.

The resolution needed 60 votes to advance because of filibuster rules, and it failed on a 54-35 vote. Every Democrat present, including Georgia U.S. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, voted in favor of moving forward on the bill. Thirty-five Republicans opposed the measure. Eleven members — nine Republicans and two Democrats — missed Friday’s vote.

Warnock said afterward that he was dismayed so many of his Republican colleagues voted against creating a bipartisan commission to study the factors that contributed to the Capitol breach, which resulted in the death of four civilians. One officer who engaged rioters that day later died of natural causes; two others died by suicide.

“Today was an abject failure of integrity and courage in a moment in which the American people need and deserve both from the people sent to represent them,” he said.

Most GOP members sided with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who opposed creating the commission, calling it unnecessary and saying it would be used to push partisan narratives about that day’s events.

The resolution called for each party to appoint five members to a panel modeled after the group that studied the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It passed the House last week in a 252-175 vote, including 35 Republicans but none of the eight from Georgia.

Most Senate Republicans opposed the measure even after meeting with the mother of an officer who engaged with rioters and died the day after the attack. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s mother, Gladys Sicknick, came to the Capitol with his girlfriend and two officers who responded during the riot. All of them encouraged lawmakers to support creating the commission.

“This is why I’m here today,” Sicknick told reporters Thursday, according to CNN. “Usually I’m staying in the background, and I just couldn’t stay quiet anymore.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, was among those who accepted a meeting with Sicknick but walked away still opposed to the resolution. He said he worried that Democratic leaders would use the commission to try to create a false narrative that hurts Republicans and that the answers the fallen officers’ family and friends seek could be found elsewhere.

“I think those questions can be answered by all the other investigations: the three (inspectors general), the prosecutions, Senate and House committee investigations,” he said. “I think this commission would be partisan and really has no value.”

Thursday’s failed vote to move forward on creating the Jan. 6 commission was the first time this congressional session that the filibuster was used to block a bill backed by the Democratic-led majority.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he reserves the right to bring back the measure in the coming weeks if he believes that GOP support has increased enough to meet the filibuster threshold. If not, both he and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have hinted that Democrats might move forward with a select committee that doesn’t require GOP approval.

“Better to move forward with a select committee than not investigate,” the New York Democrat said, although he noted the bipartisan approach is his preference.

ExploreWith little GOP support and uncertain future in Senate, House approves Jan. 6 commission