McConnell opposes January 6 commission to investigate Capitol riot, calling it 'a slanted and unbalanced proposal'

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McConnell opposes January 6 commission to investigate Capitol riot, calling it 'a slanted and unbalanced proposal'
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaks after a GOP policy luncheon on Capitol Hill.AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
  • McConnell on Wednesday announced his opposition to a bipartisan commission to examine the January 6 Capitol attack.
  • However, several members of his Republican caucus are still considering their votes.
  • Democrats would need to get 10 GOP votes to overcome a potential filibuster effort on the bill.

GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky on Wednesday announced his opposition to a Democratic-backed January 6 commission.

"After careful consideration, I've made the decision to oppose the House Democrats' slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of January 6," he said on the Senate floor.

The resistance to a 9/11-style commission examining the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol imperils a deeper investigation into the siege and how it could be prevented from occurring again.

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At a closed-door GOP lunch on Tuesday, McConnell reportedly made a comment along the lines of "there's 41 of us who could change this," signaling his willingness for the party to potentially filibuster the Democratic-endorsed legislation, according to Axios.

With the Senate evenly divided between both parties, Democrats would need to secure 10 Republican votes to overcome a legislative filibuster on the bill.

After the Tuesday meeting, McConnell told reporters that he would push "the pause button" on the legislation to create the commission, as his members needed more time to consider it.

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"I think I'm safe in characterizing our conference as willing to listen to the arguments about whether such a commission is needed," he said at the time. "It's safe for you to report that we are undecided."

The legislation is expected to pass the House in a Wednesday vote, despite sharp opposition from McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

Read more: Being a Black Republican is exhausting. But Sen. Tim Scott and other big-name conservatives say they don't need anyone's pity or platitudes.

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The current version of the bill was drafted by Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, and GOP Rep. John Katko of New York.

"I recognize there are differing views on this issue, which is an inherent part of the legislative process and not something I take personally," Katko said in a statement. "However, as the Republican Leader of the Homeland Security Committee, I feel a deep obligation to get the answers US Capitol Police and Americans deserve and ensure an attack on the heart of our democracy never happens again."

Despite Katko's involvement with the bill, the opposition from McConnell and McCarthy has led to more GOP resistance.

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Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota told CNN that a January 6 commission could undermine Republican messaging as the party heads into the midterm elections.

"I want our midterm message to be on the kinds of things that the American people are dealing with: That's jobs and wages and the economy and national security, safe streets and strong borders - not relitigating the 2020 elections," he said. "A lot of our members, and I think this is true of a lot of House Republicans, want to be moving forward and not looking backward."

Sen. Mike Rounds, also of South Dakota, reportedly initially told Sahil Kapur of NBC News that he was open to the commission. But he changed his mind after attending a GOP breakfast on Wednesday, telling reporters: "Leadership in the House says it's not bipartisan in nature."

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On Tuesday, former President Donald Trump, who continues to wield power over the caucus, also expressed his opposition to the commission.

"Republicans in the House and Senate should not approve the Democrat trap of the January 6 Commission," he said in a statement. "Republicans must get much tougher and much smarter, and stop being used by the Radical Left.

"Hopefully, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are listening!," Trump added.

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However, despite the criticism and hesitancy from GOP leaders, several Republicans are likely to back the legislation, noting that an independent review of the insurrection is vital.

While Sen. Roy Bunt of Missouri asked his colleagues to reject the legislation, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah signaled some support for the bill, arguing that lawmakers "should understand what mistakes were made and how we could prevent them from happening again."

Former GOP Rep. Zach Wamp of Tennessee, a member of the bipartisan National Council on Election Integrity, urged Republican leaders not to pressure members of Congress on their vote.

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"Leaders, please back off, don't whip against this," he said during a virtual press conference on Wednesday. "Let the members vote their conscience. They know what's right. They will do the right thing."

The bill, crafted after the investigation that looked into the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, would create an independent, 10-member commission that would issue recommendations for maintaining the security of the Capitol complex.

Under the guidelines of the legislation, a final report would have to be issued by December 31, 2021.

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