US Senators have blocked consideration of a bill designed to create a bipartisan 10-member commission to investigate the events that took place in Washington on 6 January. Only 54 Senators supported the motion, with 35 objecting to it. However, it needs to gather the support of at least 60 members of the upper chamber of Congress to be passed.
A total of six Republicans supported the motion to consider the bill as well as all the Democrats present. However, many Senators were absent during the vote, including two Democrats. Prior to the voting, at least four GOP members mulled supporting the motion to consider the 6 January Commission Act. It was expected that all Democrats in the Senate will vote in favour of the bill, which had earlier passed the House with the support of practically all Democrats and several Republicans.
The GOP's filibuster of the measure, a mechanism that prevents bills from moving forward to a vote without the support of at least 60 senators, was anticipated in light of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell opposing the initiative to form the commission and very few Republicans supporting it. McConnell argued that several congressional committees are already probing the events in addition to a federal investigation, which had already identified over 440 people responsible for the riot.
In addition, Republicans expressed concerns that the proposed 6 January commission will fail to wrap up before the end of 2021, a deadline set in the bill, thus potentially influencing the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections.
Why are Democrats Backing 6 January Commission?
The 6 January Commission is to be styled after the one established to investigate the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre. It is supposed to look into what caused a large group of Trump supporters to storm the Capitol building on the day lawmakers were about to validate Joe Biden's electoral victory. Democrats, as well as some Republicans, blamed then-President Donald Trump and his speech at a rally on the same day for prompting the attack on Congress, which left several people dead, mostly protesters themselves.
Trump strongly denied the notion that he riled up the mob attacking the Capitol, later condemning the violence. He was subsequently impeached by the House for a second time on charges of inciting insurrection but managed to avoid conviction in the Senate because more than a simple majority of votes was needed. Several Republican senators later admitted that despite everything, they believe Trump was responsible for the events of that day in some way.