Senate Republicans had not blocked any of Democrats’ bills on the floor before Friday. Democrats lamented the blockade of the legislation, with the memory of the violent insurrection still fresh in the minds of many lawmakers.
“On Jan. 6, we all walked over that broken glass. We all saw the spray paint on the walls. We all stood huddled together in shelter,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said on the floor before the failed vote.
The six Republican senators who voted to advance the commission proposal were Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Mitt Romney of Utah and Rob Portman of Ohio. All but one of them also voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial earlier this year. All six received public thanks from Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), evicted from her party’s House leadership 16 days ago after vocal criticism of Trump and his role in the riot.
A seventh GOP senator who also voted to convict Trump this year, retiring Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, would have supported advancing the House-passed commission bill had he not been called away from Washington for a family commitment, a spokesperson said.
Given Trump’s role in encouraging his supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, as well as his public opposition to the House-passed commission bill, Democrats wasted no time in 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 designed to weaken the filibuster, despite Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) repeated affirmation that he supports a 60-vote threshold to pass most legislation.
Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-N.M.), called Friday’s vote one of the “defining moments that all of our colleagues need to take a look at, I think for the good of our country.”
Collins’ efforts to negotiate a compromise to allay some Republicans’ fears about the makeup of the commission failed to gain traction, with many Republicans opposing a separate commission regardless of its form. Democrats were also skeptical of her changes, arguing they already made alterations in the House to address Republicans’ concerns.
The proposed commission, modeled after the 9/11 Commission, would have equal subpoena power and an even split between Republican and Democratic appointees, both top Republican requests.
Romney described his colleagues’ filibuster as “unfortunate.”
“I think it would be appropriate to have further evaluation of what happened on Jan. 6 and who’s responsible and how we can prevent that from happening again,” he said.
Cassidy warned of the consequences for Republicans of a partisan investigation. “The investigations will happen with or without Republicans,” he said, arguing that only Republican involvement would keep them “fair, impartial, and focused on the facts.”
The Senate voted on the Jan. 6 commission shortly before leaving for recess. It’s unclear if the concept might come back up for another vote, or whether Democrats will abandon the…