Senate Republicans appear likely to have enough votes to successfully filibuster the bipartisan January 6 Commission.
According to the AP:
Senate Republicans are ready to deploy the filibuster to block a commission on the Jan. 6 insurrection, shattering chances for a bipartisan probe of the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol and reviving pressure to do away with the procedural tactic that critics say has lost its purpose.
The vote Thursday would be the first successful use of a filibuster in the Biden presidency to halt Senate legislative action. Most Republicans oppose the bill that would establish a commission to investigate the attack by Donald Trump supporters over the election.
“We have a mob overtake the Capitol, and we can’t get the Republicans to join us in making historic record of that event? That is sad,” said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat. “That tells you what’s wrong with the Senate and what’s wrong with the filibuster.”
The filibuster is likely to hold despite Gladys Sicknick – the mother of fallen Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick – urging Republicans to support the commission. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came out against the commission last week.
So far, only two Republican senators – Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski – say they will support the commission bill as it is currently written, which passed in the House of Representatives with bipartisan support. Susan Collins says that she will oppose a filibuster but wants changes to the House-passed bill. Ten Republicans would need to join all Democrats for the bill to overcome a filibuster.
What is the proposed January 6 Commission?
The proposed independent commission would be made up of both Democrats and Republicans, most likely former lawmakers. It would be tasked with investigating the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol. Trump supporters ransacked the Capitol to prevent the certification of the Electoral College results in what amounted to an attempted coup that put at risk the lives of members of Congress and Vice President Mike Pence.
The commission would have subpoena power to force witness testimony and officially document what happened on that day. It would also offer recommendations to prevent a future attack. Importantly, the scope of the proposed independent commission’s investigation would be broader than anything that individual Congressional committees would have the necessary jurisdiction or expertise in.
McCarthy’s motivation for opposing the commission is clear.
One likely witness is Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who had an expletive-filled phone call with former president Donald Trump as the insurrection took place.
“Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are,” Trump said during the phone call.
The former president refused to call off his supporters for several hours, only after it became clear that the coup attempt had failed. When he finally released a video tepidly telling his supporters to “go home,” he repeated his lies that the election was “fraudulent.”
For his part, McCarthy is seeking to become the next Speaker of the House. So he has a clear motivation in not wanting to see a commission force his testimony and upset Trump supporters in the leadup to next year’s midterm elections.
Time to eliminate the filibuster.
Should the filibuster hold, Republicans could only bury the commission depending on whether or not Democrats eliminate or reform the filibuster. Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona are the two main holdouts. Aside from the commission, the filibuster also threatens the Democrats’ entire agenda.
We have argued on here that the filibuster is anti-democratic, and it’s time to eliminate it. This latest abuse of the filibuster – blocking an independent commission from investigating and offering recommendations to prevent a future attack on the Capitol – demonstrates yet again why the antiquated obstruction tactic must go.