Schumer tees up vote on Jan. 6 commission bill

Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) arrives to the Capitol on May 10
Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) moved on Tuesday to tee up a vote on the House-passed bill to create a commission probing the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The move will allow Schumer to hold a vote on the bill before the Senate leaves for a week-long Memorial Day recess at the end of the week, though he hedged slightly on Tuesday night as a “potential vote this week.”

To overcome the initial hurdle the bill will need 60 votes, including 10 GOP senators, support it doesn’t have a clear path to achieving as Republicans have largely hardened in opposition to the House-passed bill.

“We all know the commission is an urgent, necessary idea to safeguard our democracy,” Schumer said on Tuesday night. “We have to get it passed. Each member of the Senate is going to have to stand up and decide: Are you on the side of truth and accountability or are you on the side of Donald Trump and the big lie?”

The earliest the bill will be available for an initial vote is Thursday, absent an agreement from senators to speed things up. The Senate is currently in the middle of an intense debate over legislation aimed at combating China’s competitiveness, but Schumer also began to wind down that bill on Tuesday night paving the way for the Senate to move on to the January 6 legislation.

The bill passed the House last week with the support of 35 GOP lawmakers.

But, absent significant shifting, Senate Republicans appear poised to make the bill their first filibuster of the 117th Congress.

Only two GOP senators have said they will vote for the House bill: Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah). Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) has indicated that he’s inclined to support the bill but hasn’t said how he will vote.

Republicans are pointing to two hang ups in the bill as drafted: Concerns that it would allow Democrats to hire all the staff even though membership of the panel would be evenly split and skepticism that it wouldn’t be extended into 2022 even though the bill includes an end-of-year cutoff date.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) is circulating potential changes to the bill aimed at addressing the GOP concerns. Democratic Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) also urged Republicans to work with them to find a way for the bill to pass the Senate.

But those efforts are struggling to sway GOP senators, who have lined up behind Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition to the House bill. 

Asked if there were changes that could be made that would change his opposition, McConnell made it clear on Tuesday that there wasn’t and that he views the proposal as political.

“I think, at the heart of this recommendation by the Democrats is that they would like to continue to debate things that occurred in the past. They’d like to continue to litigate the former president into the future. …So I think this is a purely political exercise that adds nothing to the sum total of information,” McConnell said.

Tags Bill Cassidy Capitol breach Charles Schumer Donald Trump insurrection jan. 6 Joe Manchin Kyrsten Sinema Lisa Murkowski Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney Susan Collins

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