Republicans in the U.S. Senate blocked legislation Friday that called for the creation of a bipartisan panel to investigate the deadly January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump to prevent the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential victory.
As expected, Republicans used a procedural tactic known as a filibuster to block the bill, which would have launched a bipartisan investigation into the insurrection. It was the first successful use of a filibuster during the Biden presidency to stop Senate legislative action.
The 54-35 vote was shy of the 60 votes need to advance the measure.
Because the 100-member Senate is equally divided, Democrats needed 10 Republicans to vote in favor of the bill.
That was unlikely because many Republican senators remain loyal to Trump and followed the guidance of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who opposed the commission.
McConnell, who once said Trump was responsible for “provoking” the riot, more recently dismissed the legislation as nothing more than a “political exercise” since Senate committees are already investigating Capitol security shortcomings.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday on the Senate floor, "We all know what's going on here. Senate Republicans chose to defend the Big Lie," referring to Trump’s claims that he won the 2020 presidential election. He said Republican senators "feared that anything that might upset Donald Trump could hurt them politically."
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that “Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans’ denial of the truth of the January 6th insurrection brings shame to the Senate. Republicans’ cowardice in rejecting the truth of that dark day makes our Capitol and country less safe.”
"Republicans clearly put their election concerns above the security of the Congress and country," Pelosi added.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas acknowledged in a statement Friday that the attack on the Capitol was a "dark moment in our nation’s history," but "with multiple investigations already underway, I do not support the politically motivated January 6 Commission led by Senator Schumer and Speaker Pelosi."
He said, "I fully support the ongoing law enforcement investigations into anyone involved. Everyone who attacked the Capitol must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and brought to justice. I also support the Senate committees of jurisdiction who are exercising their proper oversight roles to provide an in-depth and complete account of the attack."
On January 6, shortly before the riot that left five people dead, including a federal police officer, Trump implored thousands of supporters who had come to Washington for a protest rally to "fight like hell" to overturn his defeat.
A vote on establishing the commission, modeled on the commission that investigated the September 11, 2001, attacks, had been expected Thursday but was delayed by lengthy consideration of another bill.
The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, which has 435 voting members, previously passed the legislation with some Republican support.