The events of January 6, 2021 presented a dark reality of the division and hatred in American politics. A ceremonial day turned ugly when a violent mob, on behalf of former President Trump, charged into the building in which our elected representatives were verifying a fair and free election.
On May 28, a motion to create a National Commission to investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol (HR 3233) was filibustered by the GOP and failed to reach the 60-vote minimum. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Susan Collins (R-ME) were the only six Republican Senators to vote “Yea.”
It is clear that the establishment GOP and its leader, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), viewed the commission as something that could only further worsen the already tough 2022 midterm cycle for the Senate GOP. They are defending six more seats than the Democrats and facing many incumbents—such as Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)—or retiring or pondering retirement—such as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI). Even former President Trump realized the situation the GOP was in; putting out a statement on his blog, “The Desk of Donald J. Trump” titled “Run Ron, Run” in which he attempted to persuade Johnson to put off retirement. Both senators mentioned are crucial seats for the Senate GOP to hold onto; they are battleground states in which former President Trump lost in 2020.
The 35 GOP Senators who voted against the commission are afraid of the weeks of testimony and evidence that would make clear that the former President spent weeks building a false narrative about the events of the election, and that his supporters only carried out his theories to their logical conclusions.
This is the new Republican strategy when they don’t control the Oval Office. The leadership in both the House and Senate calls out the Democratic President for being too partisan when no Republicans support any of the major legislation pushed by President Biden. Take the American Rescue plan, for example. According to DataForProgress, 73% of Americans and 56% of Republicans supported this legislation, yet no Senate Republican voted “Yea” on the bill. It was clear from the minute that HR 3233 passed the House on May 19 — even though 59% of Americans believe that the GOP wasn’t acting in the best interests of democracy — that the bill would not see the light of day or a vote without being filibustered and therefore discarded.
The question that must be posed to Republican leadership in both chambers is: why are they putting the Republican Party’s success in the midterms over the safety of elected officials, the general belief we as Americans hold in our Democracy, and the safe and successful transition of power if an incumbent president is voted out? The 35 GOP Senators who voted against the commission are afraid of the weeks of testimony and evidence that would make clear that the former President spent weeks building a false narrative about the events of the election, and that his supporters only carried out his theories to their logical conclusions.
History will look up upon those who put country over party and look down upon those who put political gain over the will of their constituents.