Senate GOP blocks Jan. 6 commission

Senate Republicans on Friday blocked a proposal to create an independent 9-11 style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, dismissing the Democrat-led push as a purely political exercise.

The proposal failed to win the 60 votes needed to clear a GOP filibuster. The 54-35 vote came ahead of the Senate‘s scheduled exit for a Memorial Day recess.

Sens. 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 broke with GOP leaders to support the proposal.

Eleven Republicans missed the procedural vote.

The attention now turns to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who could establish a select committee to look into the events of Jan. 6 or assign the task to House committees.

Democrats, and a faction of Republicans, blamed former President Trump for inciting the storming of the U.S. Capitol with his persistent but unsubstantiated charge that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by Democrats.

In response to the Senate vote, Mrs. Pelosi said: “Republican senators surrendered to the January 6th mob assault.”

“Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans’ denial of the truth of the January 6th insurrection brings shame to the Senate. Republicans’ cowardice in rejecting the truth of that dark day makes our Capitol and our country less safe,” said Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat.

Republicans killed the proposal despite pressure from the family of a Capitol Police officer who suffered a stroke and died shortly after clashes with the pro-Trump mob at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, New York Democrat, said Republicans continued their “brazen attempts to whitewash the attack of January 6th.”

The Democrat-led House passed the proposal last week on 252 to 175 vote, with 35 Republicans throwing their support behind the bill.

The bipartisan sentiment was more fleeting in the Senate, where some Republicans downplayed the violence and defended the role played by Mr. Trump and his supporters.

Before the vote, Mr. Romney said opposition to the bill was “unfortunate.”

“I think it would be appropriate to have further evaluation of what happened on January 6 and who’s responsible and how we can prevent that from happening again,” Mr. Romney told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered what ended up being the death blow last week when he came out against the commission.

The Kentucky Republican said it was a “purely political” move.

Mr. Trump strongly opposed the commission. He labeled it a “Democrat trap.”

GOP leaders made it clear that they were concerned Democrats would use the panel to smear Mr. Trump and Republicans, clouding the party’s message ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Republicans are well-positioned to flip the House and possibly wrestle control of the 50-50 split Senate, where Vice President Kamala Harris holds the tie-breaking vote.

The Jan. 6 mayhem, however, will certainly still be an issue in the campaigns. Democrats hope the GOP’s reluctance to back a commission will hurt them with some Republicans and independents.

Adonna Biel, a spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, said Republicans are covering for Mr. Trump.

“Instead of getting to the bottom of the violence that happened on January 6 to ensure it never happens again, and getting justice for the lives lost, Republicans would rather play politics and surrender to Donald Trump,” said Ms. Biel. “Republicans have made it resoundingly clear that they have no interest in the truth or standing up to protect our democracy.”

• This story includes wire service reports.

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