McConnell slams the January 6 commission as 'a purely political exercise' and accuses Democrats of focusing on 'things that occurred in the past'

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McConnell slams the January 6 commission as 'a purely political exercise' and accuses Democrats of focusing on 'things that occurred in the past'
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaks after a GOP policy luncheon on Capitol Hill.AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell dismissed a potential January 6 commission as a "purely political exercise."
  • McConnell contended that Democrats would like to focus on "things that occured in the past."
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans to force a vote on the bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday said that bipartisan legislation that would create a January 6 commission to examine the Capitol riot was a "purely political exercise" driven by Democrats.

The Kentucky Republican, who announced his opposition to the commission on the Senate floor last week, calling it a "slanted and unbalanced proposal," accused Democrats of wanting to use a commission to attack former President Donald Trump.

"I think at the heart of this recommendation by the Democrats is that they would like to continue to debate things that occured in the past," McConnell said. "They would to continue to litigate the former president into the future. We think the American people going forward, and in the fall of 2022, ought to focus on what this administration is doing to the country and what the clear choice is that we have made to oppose most of these initiatives."

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He added: "I think this is a purely political exercise that adds nothing to the sum total of information."

The GOP resistance to a 9/11-style commission examining the deadly insurrection at the Capitol imperils a deeper investigation into the siege, along with recommendations on how it can be prevented from occurring again.

Last week, after weeks of negotiations, the House passed the bill in a 252-175 vote, with 35 Republicans joining Democrats to support the legislation despite vocal opposition from House GOP leadership, led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

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Read more: A multitude of Trump-era mysteries are poised to come roaring back into the headlines. Everyone involved is bracing for what happens after that.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York is planning to force a vote on the legislation in the coming days or weeks, but with only 50 seats, Democrats would still need 10 GOP votes to overcome a legislative filibuster.

So far, Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are the only Republican lawmakers in the upper chamber who have indicated support for the bill.

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Senate GOP leadership has steadfastly lined up against the legislation.

In addition to McConnell's opposition, Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota told CNN last week that a commission could undermine the GOP as it looks to next year's 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."

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Trump, who in January was impeached for his role in the riot, chimed in last week to express his opposition to any future probes.

"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."

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