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Jumat, 28 Mei 2021

Republican senators loyal to Donald Trump block bipartisan committee to investigate US Capitol riots - ABC News

US Senate Republicans have blocked the creation of a bipartisan panel to study the January 6 attack on the Capitol, in a show of party loyalty to former president Donald Trump.

The vote was 54 to 35 — short of the 60 votes needed to take up a House-passed bill that would have formed a 10-member commission evenly split between the two parties.

It came a day after emotional appeals from police who fought with the rioters and politicians who fled Capitol chambers that day.

Six Republicans voted with Democrats to move forward. Eleven senators missed the rare Friday vote.

The January 6 commission bill passed the House this month with the support of almost three dozen Republicans. 

Speaking to his Republican colleagues, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote they were “trying to sweep the horrors of that day under the rug” out of loyalty to Mr Trump.

He left open the possibility of another vote in the future on establishing a bipartisan commission, declaring: “The events of January 6 will be investigated."

Republican senators said they believed the commission would eventually be used against them politically.

Mr Trump, who still has a firm hold on the party, has called it a "Democrat trap".

An explosion caused by a police munition in front of the US Capitol building during a Trump supporter riot.
Donald Trump says the proposed commission is a "Democrat trap".(

Reuters: Leah Millis

)

The vote is emblematic of the profound mistrust between the two parties since the siege, especially among Republicans, as some in the party have downplayed the violence and defended the rioters who supported Mr Trump and his false insistence that the election was stolen from him.

The attack was the worst on the US Capitol in 200 years and interrupted the certification of Democrat Joe Biden's win over Mr Trump.

Four people died that day, and US Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick collapsed and died afterward of what authorities said were natural causes.

Two police officers took their own lives in the days after the riots.

'Truth is hard stuff': Six Republicans vote with Democrats

The vote came after Mr Sicknick's mother, girlfriend and two police officers who fought the rioters went office to office and asked Republicans to support the commission.

While initially saying he was open to the idea of the commission, which would be modeled after an investigation of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell turned firmly against it in recent days.

He has said he believes the panel's investigation would be partisan despite the even split among party members.

A close up of a older white male with round glasses and grey hair gesturing.
Mitch McConnell is opposed to the commission because he fears it would be partisan.(

AP: Kevin Dietsch

)

Mr McConnell, who once said Mr Trump was responsible for provoking the mob attack on the US Capitol, said of Democrats: "They'd like to continue to litigate the former president, into the future."

Still, six in his caucus defied him, arguing that an independent look is needed.

Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski said she needed to know more about what happened that day and why.

"Truth is hard stuff, but we've got a responsibility to it," she said.

Of her colleagues opposing the commission, Ms Murkowski said some did not want to "rock the boat".

Republican Texas senator John Cornyn, who once supported the idea of the commission, said he believed Democrats were trying to use it as a political tool.

"I don't think this is the only way to get to the bottom of what happened," Mr Cornyn said, noting that Senate committees were also looking at the siege.

Republican opposition to the bipartisan panel has revived Democratic pressure to do away with the filibuster, a time-honored Senate tradition that requires a vote by 60 of the 100 senators to cut off debate and advance a bill.

With the Senate evenly split 50-50, Democrats need support of 10 Republicans to move to the commission bill.

The Republicans' political arguments over the violent siege — which is still raw for many in the Capitol, almost five months later — have frustrated not only Democrats but also those who fought off the rioters.

Michael Fanone, a Metropolitan Police Department officer who responded to the attack, joined Mr Sicknick's family on Capitol Hill.

In between meetings with Republican senators, he said a commission was "necessary for us to heal as a nation from the trauma that we all experienced that day".

A man wearing an animal hat with horns and the US flag painted on his face confront a police office inside the Capitol.
Four people died, when supporters of Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol on January 6.(

AP: Manuel Balce Ceneta

)

Mr Fanone has described being dragged down the US Capitol steps by rioters who shocked him with a stun gun and beat him.

Sandra Garza, the partner of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, who collapsed and died after battling the rioters, said of the Republican senators: "You know they are here today and with their families and comfortable because of the actions of law enforcement that day."

"So I don't understand why they would resist getting to the bottom of what happened that day and fully understanding how to prevent it. Just boggles my mind," she said.

Video of the rioting shows two men spraying Mr Sicknick and another officer with a chemical, but the Washington medical examiner said he suffered a stroke and died from natural causes.

Some Republicans concerned it could be used as a political tool

In a statement, Ms Sicknick suggested the opponents of the commission "visit my son's grave in Arlington National Cemetery and, while there, think about what their hurtful decisions will do to those officers who will be there for them going forward".

Dozens of other police officers were injured as the rioters pushed past them, breaking through windows and doors and hunting for lawmakers.

The protesters constructed a mock gallows in front of the US Capitol and called for the hanging of former vice-president Mike Pence, who was overseeing the certification of the presidential vote.

Men in suits crouching in the US chamber looking frightened
Joe Biden said he "can't imagine anyone voting against" the bill.(

AP: Andrew Harnik

)

"We have a mob overtake the Capitol, and we can't get the Republicans to join us in making historic record of that event? That is sad," said senator Dick Durbin of Illinois.

Many Democrats are warning that if Republicans are willing to use the filibuster to stop an arguably popular measure, it shows the limits of trying to broker compromises, particularly on bills related to election reforms or other aspects of the Democrats' agenda.

For now, though, Democrats don't have the votes to change the rule.

West Virginia senator Joe Manchin and Arizona senator Kyrsten Sinema, both moderate Democrats, have said they want to preserve the filibuster.

Mr Biden, asked about the commission at a stop in Cleveland, said: "I can't imagine anyone voting against [it]".

AP

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2021-05-28 19:28:02Z
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