Senate Republicans blocked the setting up of a bipartisan commission to probe the deadly riot at the Capitol in January, a development that suggested core Republican support for former President Donald Trump has not waned.
The move to set up the 9/11 style commission mustered a 54-35 vote in the Senate, falling short of the 60 votes required. The move had earlier passed the Senate hurdle where it was passed last week.
Only 6 Republicans Support Move
Only six moderate Republicans supported the measure while all Democrats were in favor of it. Hundreds of Trump supporters had stormed the Capitol on January 6, in the aftermath of a bitterly fought election that the Republicans had lost. The protesters unleashed mayhem in the Capitol, attacking the security personnel and ransacking through lawmakers' offices, in a bid to delay the formal certification of President Joe Biden's election victory. As many as five people had died in the violence.
President Joe Biden condemned the Republicans action, saying: "I can't imagine anyone voting against establishing a commission on the greatest assault since the Civil War on the Capitol."
Trump Had Asked GoP to Vote Against Capitol Riots Panel
Trump had called on the Republicans to vote against the move and defeat it in the Senate. The president, who holds formidable power in the ranks of the party even after the election loss, had warned the lawmakers of "consequences" if they supported the move to install a 9/11 commission to probe the Capitol riots.
Democrats in the Senate decried the outcome, saying that Senate Republicans are not willing to defy Trump as they worry about their re-elections. "We all know what's going on here. Senate Republicans chose to defend the Big Lie because they feared that anything that might upset Donald Trump could hurt them politically," Senate leader of the Democrats, Chuck Schumer, said.
However, the Republicans justified the move. Mitch McConnell, Republican leader in the Senate, said the ongoing bipartisan investigation into the Capitol riot by the Senate rules and homeland security committees were enough. Broadly, the Republicans worry that the setting up of a commission will lead to a protracted probe that will keep haunting them well into the next midterm elections.
Powers of the Commission
The commission that the Democrats wanted to set up would the power to summon witnesses, possibly including Trump himself, to testify under oath, Reuters reported.
Moderate Republicans are upset that the move failed, even as the Senate balance of power means that the Democrats need the support of at least one in five Republicans to pass major bills relating to policing reforms and voting-rights legislation.
Though the vote shows the Republicans are united, the fissures have also been widening. Trump this week locked horns with former House Speaker Paul Ryan, who had suggested that the GoP must move away from personality-based leadership, a direct dig at Trump's leadership.