Texas, Cornyn, other top Republicans look at Jan 6 commission bill, plan to filibuster
WASHINGTON, DC – Texas Senator John Cornyn was clear in February: Congress should create a 9/11-type outside commission to investigate the January 6 attack, a rare sign of bipartisanship just a month later the murderous insurrection of the Capitol.
“I agree with President Pelosi – a 911 type investigation is needed to prevent this from happening again,” said Cornyn, a member of the GOP leadership in the Senate, tweeted and endorsed an idea launched by the Democratic speaker.
Three months later, Cornyn changed her mind, as did her fellow Republican Senate colleagues, who are now on the verge of filibustering the proposal and preventing debate on the floor – a vote that should have take place this week.
Asked what has changed, Cornyn told CNN on Monday: “The process has been hijacked for political gain. And I think it’s a shame, ”instead calling on Congress to investigate.
Cornyn’s remarks reflect growing opposition from senior Senate Republicans to an investigation amid growing fears the investigation could become politically damaging to former President Donald Trump and some GOP congressmen – and give Democrats fodder to attack Republicans as the mid-term 2022 approaches. Leading Republicans say they’d rather block the bill now – and take the political blow – rather than allow a sprawling investigation to go on for months as they try to unify against the government’s agenda. President Joe Biden.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune, a Republican from South Dakota, told reporters on Monday he feared the investigation “dragged on indefinitely.” And he indicated that there was no way forward for the bill “in its present form”.
Ten Republicans would need to break ranks for Democrats to get the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster. And on Monday, a GOP senator, Mitt Romney of Utah, indicated he would support the bill.
“I would support the bill,” Romney said.
Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, said on Monday she had reached out to key House Democratic leaders to demand changes to how staff are chosen on the committee and to ensure that the survey does not drag on in 2022.
“I think a commission is important to – so that we can better understand what led up to January 6,” Collins said on Monday.
But his views are decidedly in the GOP minority.
“I am against the commission,” said Florida Senator Rick Scott, who heads the GOP Senate campaign committee during the 2022 election cycle.
Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, has said he will vote to block debate on the bill – and said a broader scope is needed for such an investigation.
“They should be smart enough to know that there should be a lot going on in this country besides what happened on January 6 – and what happened in Portland, Seattle and Minneapolis and many other places, including a lot of the antagonism against the Jewish people currently under attack in Los Angeles and New York, ”Grassley said.
Grassley added: “There are a lot of things wrong that should be investigated other than January 6th.”
The bill, which was negotiated by a House Democrat and a House Republican and was approved by a bipartisan majority in the House last week, would establish a 10-member committee, selected equally by leaders of the two parties, the two parties having the same power of subpoena. They would be tasked with reporting by the end of the year on the attack and the “influencing factors” behind it.
Cornyn now says such a probe is better suited to standing committees of Congress.
“But as I think I told you, there is another way to do it, and that is to use our standing committees, as we did the investigation into Russia, which was bipartisan, which lasted for three years. “Cornyn said of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation. “I’m not suggesting we take three years, so the idea of a commission, I think, was good, but if it is to be used for political purposes, it’s not our only way to get to the bottom of it. things.”
The bipartite legislation that was passed by the House was modeled after the bipartisan 9/11 Commission. But Cornyn took issue with Pelosi’s original offer, which was to have more Democratic members than GOP commissioners, even though the speaker later quashed that idea and backed a uniformly split commission.
When asked if he would be open to the bill with some changes, Cornyn said, “It’s a moot question from my perspective because we can just do it through standing committees.
Republicans cited an upcoming report from two Senate committees as reason enough not to have a separate committee, which they said would be duplication.
But the Speaker of the Rules of the Senate, Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, told CNN that an upcoming report by two Senate committees on the January 6 attack was “not a substitute” for the creation of a outside commission to investigate the insurgency.
Klobuchar said the report – which will be released the week of June 7 – will focus on “recommendations for immediate things” that need to be done with the U.S. Capitol Police Board, intelligence sharing and other measures that could be taken now. She said it was very different from a larger investigation by an outside panel modeled on the 9/11 commission.
“We have interviewed a lot of people since our first two public hearings, but we want to publish it so that we can make changes now,” Klobuchar said on Monday. “It’s a different thing from the 9/11 Commission, or what that commission would be, which are just longer-term systemic issues that led to this, and which also include more systemic changes. long term.”
The report is written by its panel with the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. Sen. Rob Portman, the senior Republican on that committee, told CNN the investigation was closer to focus on “why was Capitol so ill-prepared” that day.
“It’s well documented on the evidence, the results, leading to specific recommendations,” Portman said. “It’s serious. But it’s not supposed to cover everything, which I think, you know, some of my fellow Democrats had hoped it was more about Trump and the motives. It’s more about what happened that day. Why we weren’t better prepared, how we can better prepare, why the response was so slow. “