Republicans blocked a bipartisan panel to study the January 6 Capitol riot on Friday, with the Senate falling six votes short of the 60 needed to form a 10-member commission from both parties.
Six Republicans voted with Democrats to move forward on the commission bill, and eleven senators missed the rare Friday vote, some of whom said they had scheduling conflicts.
The commission bill had passed the House of Representatives earlier this month with support from some three dozen Republicans but GOP senators said they thought it could be used against them politically.
The move was a show of support for former President Donald Trump who said the panel was a “Democrat trap”.
It came a day after emotional appeals from police who fought with the rioters, the family of an officer who died afterward and lawmakers in both parties who fled Capitol chambers as the rioters broke in.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote Republicans were “trying to sweep the horrors of that day under the rug” out of loyalty to Trump.
He left open the possibility of another vote in the future on establishing a bipartisan commission, declaring, “The events of Jan. 6 will be investigated.”
The attack on the Capitol had interrupted the certification of President Joe Biden’s election win as Trump insisted that the election was stolen from him.
Four of the rioters died and Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick collapsed and died afterward of what authorities said were natural causes. Dozens of police officers were wounded and too police officers took their own lives after the riots.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he was initially open to the idea of an independent panel but then said he believed the panel’s investigation would be partisan despite the even split among party members.
Democrats would “like to continue to litigate the former president, into the future,” McConnell said.
Six Republicans said an independent look into the events was needed. A seventh senator said he would have moved forward with the legislation.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said Thursday evening that she needs to know more about what happened that day and why.
“Truth is hard stuff, but we’ve got a responsibility to it,” she told reporters. “We just can’t pretend that nothing bad happened, or that people just got too excitable. Something bad happened. And it’s important to lay that out.”
Of her colleagues opposing the commission, Murkowski said some are concerned that “we don’t want to rock the boat.”