Senate Republicans hadn’t blocked any of the Democrats’ bills on the floor before Friday. Democrats lamented the blockade of the legislation, with the memory of the violent uprising still fresh in the minds of many lawmakers.
“On January 6th, we all walked over the broken glass. We all saw the spray paint on the walls. We were all huddled under cover, “said Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) On the ground before the failed vote.
The six Republican Senators who voted to implement the commission’s proposal were Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, Susan Collins from Maine, Bill Cassidy from Louisiana, Ben Sasse from Nebraska, Mitt Romney from Utah and Rob Portman from Ohio. All but one also voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment earlier this year.
Given Trump’s role in encouraging his supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, as well as his public opposition to the House Commission bill passed by the House of Representatives, the Democrats wasted no time tying the Friday filibuster to the former president.
“Donald Trump’s big lie has now enveloped the Republican Party,” Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor.
The GOP blockade could put further pressure on Senators to consider reforms to weaken the filibuster, despite Senator Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) repeatedly reiterating that he supports a 60-vote threshold to pass most laws to adopt.
Senator Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.) Described the vote on Friday as one of the “crucial moments that all our colleagues must consider, I think for the good of our country”.
Collins’s efforts to negotiate a compromise to allay some Republicans’ fears about the composition of the commission failed, and many Republicans opposed a separate commission, regardless of its shape. Democrats were also skeptical of their changes, arguing they had already made changes in the House to address Republican concerns.
The proposed commission, modeled after the 9/11 commission, would have the same power of subpoena and an even division between Republican and Democratic candidates, both top proposals from the Republicans.
Romney described his colleagues’ filibuster as “unhappy”.
“I think it would be appropriate to make another assessment of what happened on January 6th and who is responsible for it and how we can prevent this from happening again,” he said.
Cassidy warned of the consequences of a partisan investigation for the Republicans. “The investigation will be with or without Republicans,” he said, arguing that only Republican involvement would keep it “fair, impartial, and fact-focused.”
The Senate voted shortly before the break for the commission on Jan. 6. It is unclear whether the concept could come back to the vote or whether the Democrats will abandon the commission to continue their own investigation. However, Friday’s filibuster is likely to ruin the prospect of a full independent investigation into the uprising.
Top Democrats are considering conducting a one-party investigation into the January 6th events. Such an approach, known as a selected committee, would not require Republican support, but could be viewed as partisan.
The Democrats could also continue the committee’s existing investigation into the insurrection. FBI Director Christopher Wray is due to testify to the House Oversight Committee next month, and several Senate committees are expected to publish their own reports on the riot in the coming weeks.
Klobuchar, chairman of one of the committees due to issue a report, said this was “no substitute” for an independent commission and called it an analysis of immediate security measures rather than an in-depth look into the attack.
Burgess Everett contributed to this report.