Senate

Murkowski voices frustration with GOP over Jan. 6 commission: ‘Something bad happened’

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) signaled frustration with her Republican colleagues, who appear poised to block legislation forming a commission to probe the Jan. 6 attack as soon as Thursday night.

Murkowski, speaking to a group of reporters, pushed back on concerns, voiced by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and other Republicans, that the commission could hurt the party heading into the 2022 election, when she is up for reelection.

“To be making a decision for the short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us on January 6, I think we need to look at that critically,” Murkowski said.

“Are we going to acknowledge that as a country that is based on these principles of democracy that we hold so dear and one of those is that we have free and elections and we respect the results of those elections and we allow for a peaceful transition of power — I kind of want that to work beyond just one election cycle,” Murkowski continued.

Murkowski is one of three GOP senators who are expected to support the House bill during a key test vote that could take place late Thursday night.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has said he supports the House-passed bill. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has said she will help get the bill over a key procedural hurdle, where it’s expected to fall short, while she tries to make changes to the legislation including changing the language on staffing and the end dates.

But most Republicans are poised to vote against it. McConnell, in particular, has warned that it could damage Republicans heading into 2022. He has his eye on winning back the majority by keeping a focus off former President Trump and the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, in which a mob of his supporters breached the building and disrupted a counting of the Electoral College vote.

“They’d like to continue to litigate the former president into the future. We think the American people, going forward and in the fall of ’22, ought to focus on what this administration is doing to the country and what the clear choices that we have made to oppose most of these initiatives,” McConnell told reporters after a closed-door lunch this week.

Trump has also weighed in on the congressional debate, urging GOP lawmakers to reject the commission as he’s doubled down on his false claim that the election was “stolen.”

Trump has largely sequestered himself in Florida since leaving office, but he looms large over the Republican Party hinting that he wants to play in the 2022 midterm election and flirting with running for reelection.

Murkowski acknowledged that concern about upsetting the former president is driving the discussion around the commission bill for some Republicans.

“I think there is some concern that we don’t want to rock the boat,” she said.

But Murkowski, while on the losing side of the GOP commission vote, argued that the country needs to get to the bottom of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and to have that investigated by an independent body.

“We just can’t pretend that nothing bad happened or that people just got too excited. Something bad happened. And it’s important to lay that out,” Murkowski said, taking an apparent jab at some congressional Republicans who have downplayed the attack.

“I think there’s more to be learned,” Murkowski added. “I want to know and I don’t want to know … but I need to. And I think it’s important to the country that there be an independent evaluation.”

Murkowski was one of several lawmakers who met on Thursday with Gladys Sicknick, the mother of a Capitol Police officer killed on Jan. 6.

“I am heartsick that you feel that you need to come and advocate to members of Congress that we stand up and say that the truth is hard and that the truth is necessary,” Murkowski told reporters about the meeting. “The truth is hard stuff but we’ve got a responsibility.”

Tags Donald Trump Lisa Murkowski Mitch McConnell Mitt Romney Susan Collins

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