The Capitol Dome looms behind the Peace Monument statue in Washington, Friday, May 28, 2021, as the Senate tries to finish to its work going into the Memorial Day recess with Republican leaders insisting they will block a commission on the Jan. 6 insurrection by a mob loyal to former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Capitol Dome looms behind the Peace Monument statue in Washington, Friday, May 28, 2021, as the Senate tries to finish to its work going into the Memorial Day recess with Republican leaders insisting they will block a commission on the Jan. 6 insurrection by a mob loyal to former President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Republicans block bipartisan probe of deadly Jan. 6 riot at U.S. Capitol

Attack was the worst on the Capitol in 200 years and interrupted the certification of Biden’s win over Trump

Senate Republicans on Friday blocked creation of a bipartisan panel to study the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, turning aside the independent investigation in a show of party loyalty to former President Donald Trump and an effort to shift the political focus away from the violent insurrection by his GOP supporters.

The Senate vote was 54-35 — six short of the 60 votes 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, and eleven senators missed the rare Friday vote, some of whom said they had scheduling conflicts. The vote is likely to mean that questions about who should bear responsibility for the attacks 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, terrorist attacks.

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.

The attack was the worst on the Capitol in 200 years and interrupted the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s win over Trump. The protesters constructed a mock gallows in front of the Capitol and called for the hanging of Vice President Mike Pence, who was overseeing the certification of the presidential vote. Lawmakers hid on the floor of the House as they tried to break in, and senators evacuated their chamber mere minutes before it was ransacked.

Four of the rioters died that day, and Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick collapsed and died afterward of what authorities said were natural causes. Dozens of police officers were wounded, some with permanent injuries, and two police officers took their own lives in the days after the riots.

While initially saying he was open to the idea of the commission, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell turned firmly against it in recent days. He has said he believes the panel’s investigation would be partisan despite the even split among party members.

McConnell, who once said Trump was responsible for provoking the mob attack on the Capitol, said of Democrats, “They’d like to continue to litigate the former president, into the future.”

Still, six in his caucus defied him, arguing that an independent look is needed. A seventh, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, missed the vote because of a family commitment but would have also voted to move forward with the legislation.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said Thursday evening that she needs to know more about what happened that day and why.

“Truth is hard stuff, but we’ve got a responsibility to it,” she told reporters. “We just can’t pretend that nothing bad happened, or that people just got too excitable. Something bad happened. And it’s important to lay that out.”

Of her colleagues opposing the commission, Murkowski said some are concerned that “we don’t want to rock the boat.”

GOP opposition to the bipartisan panel has revived Democratic pressure to do away with the filibuster, a time-honored Senate tradition that requires a vote by 60 of the 100 senators to cut off debate and advance a bill. With the Senate evenly split 50-50, Democrats need support of 10 Republicans to move to the commission bill.

The Republicans’ political arguments over the violent siege — which is still raw for many in the Capitol, almost five months later — have frustrated not only Democrats and some of their Republican colleagues but also those who fought off the rioters. Sicknick’s mother, girlfriend and two police officers who battled the rioters alongside him went office to office and asked Republicans to support the commission.

Michael Fanone, a Metropolitan Police Department officer who responded to the attack, joined Sicknick’s family on Capitol Hill Thursday. In between meetings with Republican senators, he said a commission is “necessary for us to heal as a nation from the trauma that we all experienced that day.” Fanone has described being dragged down the Capitol steps by rioters who shocked him with a stun gun and beat him.

Sandra Garza, the partner of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who collapsed and died after battling the rioters, said of the Republican senators, “You know they are here today and with their families and comfortable because of the actions of law enforcement that day.”

“So I don’t understand why they would resist getting to the bottom of what happened that day and fully understanding how to prevent it. Just boggles my mind,” she said.

Video of the rioting shows two men spraying Sicknick and another officer with a chemical, but the Washington medical examiner said he suffered a stroke and died from natural causes.

Garza attended the meetings with Sicknick’s mother, Gladys Sicknick. In a statement Wednesday, Mrs. Sicknick suggested the opponents of the commission “visit my son’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery and, while there, think about what their hurtful decisions will do to those officers who will be there for them going forward.”

Many Democrats are warning that if Republicans are willing to use the filibuster to stop an arguably popular measure, it shows the limits of trying to broker compromises, particularly on bills related to election reforms or other aspects of the Democrats’ agenda.

For now, though, Democrats don’t have the votes to change the rule. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, both moderate Democrats, have said they want to preserve the filibuster.

Biden, asked about the commission at a stop in Cleveland, said Thursday, “I can’t imagine anyone voting against” it.

___

Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Colleen Long and Padmananda Rama contributed to this report.

Mary Clare Jalonick And Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press

USA

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

A sketch of the multi-use path that will connect Lagoon Beach and Royal Beach in Colwood. (Sketch courtesy of the City of Colwood)
Concepts for Colwood beach connector coming to council June 21

Major infrastructure project includes gathering places, public amenities and pathways

Victoria police are asking for witnesses who might have information about this tricycle that was stolen in downtown Victoria on Thursday. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Police seek witnesses after downtown Victoria company’s tricycle stolen

The three-wheeler was taken from the 2100-block of Store Street on Thursday

(Victoria Cool Aid Society/Facebook)
Victoria food drive aims to feed those also struggling with housing

Quadra Village furniture store hosting drive-thru event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

OPINION SIG
SOOKE HISTORY: A brief history of Bear Creek Camp

Malahat Logging Company began both Beach Camp and Bear Creek Camp

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read