She declined to say if she can get nine more Republicans to come – a necessity to pass the statement. But she has said that she will be voting this week to break a filibuster and that “most of the people I speak to believe that this would improve the bill, whether they are on the commission or not . “
If the Republicans filibustered the bill, it would not only reduce the chances of a bipartisan commission, but also increase the demands of progressive Democrats who want to scrap the filibuster entirely.
In the new Collins language, the chairman and vice chairman of the committee would “jointly” appoint staff – a change made amid concerns by the GOP that Democratic majorities in Congress could tip the scales of the panel’s staff. If the chairman and vice chairman are stuck for 10 days after the panel is formed, Collins text would allow the two sides to appoint their own staff.
Collins would also unwind the panel 30 days after the Commission’s final year-end report, rather than 60 days.
It’s unclear whether Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer would support their changes. He warned this week about the possibility of “getting” employees if the commission leaders are stuck. He also gave a speech on Wednesday calling on Republicans to move on with the bill.
Collins said at a bill signing last week that spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer both said their approach was “sensible”. The bigger question concerns Republicans, who heard a presentation from Collins on Tuesday.
She acknowledged that “there are a variety of views in the caucus”.
Republican Sens. Mitt Romney from Utah and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska support Collins’ changes. Also, Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Attendees said they were interested in helping them at a party lunch on Tuesday. However, several other senators, including McConnell, spoke out against the commission.
Several Republicans have raised concerns that regardless of how it’s drafted, the draft commission will bleed to death in the medium term. Romney conceded that argument but said that “whether or not this commission exists, the House and Senate will be conducting this type of investigation anyway”. And these would be led by democratic chairmen.
In part, Collins and Romney respond to requests from Sens. Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona to work with them on a solution. These two Democrats oppose changing Senate filibuster rules, but issued a joint statement Tuesday calling “our Senate Republican colleagues to work with us to find a way forward.”
Even if these members strike a middle ground, most Republicans have increased their opposition to the concept of the commission itself. McConnell and his leadership team interview members about their position, with McConnell making strong public and private arguments against it.
Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), who is close to McConnell, said he was confident that congressional committees can conduct an investigation faster and with less drama than a commission.
“They want the 2022 election to be a referendum on President Trump. And we think we can do our due diligence without giving them a political platform, ”said Cornyn. “It’s that simple for me.”