WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans on Friday blocked creation of a bipartisan panel to study the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in a show of party loyalty to former President Donald Trump, aiming to shift the political focus away from the violent insurrection by his GOP supporters.
Instead, it’s now likely that questions about who should bear responsibility for the attack will continue to be filtered through a partisan lens rather than addressed by an independent panel modeled after the commission that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
The Senate vote was 54-35 — six short of the 60 needed to take up a House-passed bill that would have formed a 10-member commission evenly split between the two parties. It came a day after emotional appeals from police who fought with the rioters, the family of an officer who died afterward and lawmakers in both parties who fled Capitol chambers as the rioters broke in.
Six Republicans voted with Democrats to move forward. Eleven senators — nine Republicans and two Democrats — missed the vote, an unusually high number of absentees for one of the highest-profile votes of the year. Some said they had scheduling conflicts.
It was the first successful use of a Senate filibuster in the Biden presidency and revived talk of doing way with the time-honored procedure typically used to kill major legislation. It requires 60 votes to move ahead, rather than a simple majority in the 100-member Senate.
Though the Jan. 6 commission bill passed the House earlier this month with the support of almost three dozen Republicans, most GOP senators said they believe the commission would eventually be used against them politically. And Trump, who still has a firm hold on the party, has called it a “Democrat trap.”
Speaking to his Republican colleagues, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote they were “trying to sweep the horrors of that day under the rug” out of loyalty to Trump.
He left open the possibility of another vote in the future on establishing a bipartisan commission, declaring, “The events of Jan. 6 will be investigated.”
Friday’s vote was emblematic of the profound mistrust between the two parties since the siege, especially among Republicans, as some in the party have downplayed the violence and defended the rioters who supported Trump and his false insistence that the election was stolen from him.