Two Senate Democrats issued a joint statement Tuesday pleading with Senate Republicans to “work with us” on establishing a commission to investigate the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
“We implore our Senate Republican colleagues to work with us to find a path forward on a commission to examine the events of January 6th,” Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., said in their statement.
“A bipartisan commission to investigate the events of that day has passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan vote and is a critical step to ensuring our nation never has to endure an attack at the hands of our countrymen again,” the statement said.
It’s a move in line with the pair’s efforts to preserve the filibuster, a signal that they see a possible Republican blocking of the Jan. 6 commission as putting the 60-vote threshold at risk.
The entreaty did not contain any overt threat that the pair would change their stance on filibuster reform, but does show their frustration over the resistance to date against the commission from Senate Republicans.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced his opposition to the legislation for a 9/11-style commission last week, calling it a “slanted and unbalanced proposal.” On Tuesday, he described the proposed commission as a “purely political exercise that adds nothing to the sum total of information.”
“At the heart of this recommendation by the Democrats is that they would like to continue to debate things that occurred in the past,” McConnell said.
Despite McConnell’s stance, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska became the first Senate Republican to announce support for the Jan. 6 commission on Tuesday, telling reporters “I’m going to support it.”
Nine more Republicans would have to support the House-passed resolution for it to bypass the 60-vote threshold filibuster and pass the bill to create the commission. Thirty-five Republicans supported the legislation in the House.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters that he supported a Jan. 6 commission but would like the “improvements” offered by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to be “included in the final legislation.”
Those improvements would shorten a final window to complete the commission’s report, as well as make the staffing decisions bipartisan.
It’s unclear if any other Senate Republicans will back the bill, which was negotiated and agreed toby the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, and the top Republican, Rep. John Katko of New York.
The commission will likely include a look at former President Donald Trump’s role in instigating his supporters’ attack on the Capitol and his response to the riot, as well as some of his communications with Republican members of Congress before, during and after the attack.
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, told reporters last week that some of his colleagues had concerns that the proposed commission’s work could be “weaponized” against them in next year’s midterm elections. Thune said those members worry “whether or not this can be, in the end, a fair process that fully examines the facts around Jan. 6 in an objective way, and doesn’t become a political weapon in the hands of the Democrats.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who’s pushing for a vote on the bill this week, told reporters Tuesday, “I’m sorry that it may be bad politics for the Republicans in their midterm campaigns. The Democratic-led Congress is not going to just sweep Jan. 6 under the rug. The truth will come out.”