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In victory for Trump, Republicans block probe of US Capitol riot

  • Published at 11:37 pm May 28th, 2021
US Capitol
File Photo: An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in front of the US Capitol Building in Washington, US, January 6, 2021 Reuters

Democrats and some moderate Republicans had called for a commission to probe the events up to and including January 6

Republicans in the US Senate on Friday derailed a bipartisan inquiry into the deadly assault on the Capitol by former President Donald Trump's supporters, despite a torrent of criticism they were playing down the violence.

Democrats and some moderate Republicans had called for a commission to probe the events up to and including January 6, when hundreds of supporters of Trump, a Republican, stormed the Capitol, fighting with police, urging violence against lawmakers and delaying the formal certification of President Joe Biden's election victory. The violence left five people dead including a Capitol Police officer.

The measure failed by a vote of 54 to 35, short of the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation in the 100-member Senate. The 35 no votes were all Republicans.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said after the vote: "We all know what's going on here. Senate Republicans chose to defend the Big Lie because they feared that anything that might upset Donald Trump could hurt them politically."

The proposed commission would have had the power to force witnesses, possibly including Trump, to testify under oath about what happened that day. Trump had urged lawmakers to vote against it.

It was the first time this year that Republicans were able to use the 60-vote hurdle, known as a filibuster, to defeat legislation.

The vote underscores the steep challenges for Democrats in the evenly divided chamber, as they will have to win at least some Republican support in order to pass policing reforms, voting-rights legislation and other priorities.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has argued that a commission would have duplicated work done by other congressional committees, as well as a sweeping federal criminal investigation that has so far resulted in the arrests of more than 440 people.

But Republicans are also concerned that a commission, modeled on one that probed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, would focus attention on the violence and on Trump's persistent false claims about the 2020 election well into next year's midterm congressional election campaigns.

The proposal already passed the House of Representatives with the support of all Democrats and one in six Republicans after bipartisan negotiations.

"Something bad happened. And it's important to lay that out," Senator Lisa Murkowski, one of six Republicans who supported the measure, told reporters late on Thursday.

After the Senate vote, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats would "proceed to find the truth" about what happened on January 6, but said nothing about whether she would set up another investigation, as some Democrats have suggested.