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Sen. Mitt Romney says he “would support” the House-passed bill establishing a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, making him the first Senate Republican to come out in favor of the proposal, after House Republicans opposed it.
Speaking to reporters at the Capitol on Monday evening, Romney (R-Utah) made the revelation after being asked how he would vote if Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) brought the legislation to the floor for debate.
“I would support the bill,” he responded.
The Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, though Vice President Kamala Harris, as Senate president, has a tie-breaking vote. Still, 51 votes are not enough under current rules to break through the filibuster.
The legislative filibuster is the Senate rule requiring 60 members to end debate on most topics and move forward to a vote.
In this Congress, Democrats need 10 Republicans to move any major legislation forward.
The House passed legislation to create an independent, “9/11-style” commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot on the Capitol in a 252-175 vote last Wednesday.
Under the House bill, each party would select five commissioners with expertise in national security and law enforcement to look into the security shortcomings that allowed a mob of rioters supporting President Donald Trump to breach the Capitol building in an attempt to disrupt the certification of President Biden’s electoral victory.
A bipartisan agreement was struck between House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Ranking Member John Katko (R-NY) last week.
It would have allowed each party to tap five commissioners who are not current government officials to conduct the probe and would provide a report to Congress by the end of the year.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) came out against the compromise commission, however, after Trump lashed out at the idea in a statement.
Thirty-five House Republicans ultimately voted in favor.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came out against the commission shortly after.
“As everybody surely knows, I repeatedly made my views about the events of January 6 very clear. I spoke clearly and left no doubt about my conclusions,” he said from the Senate floor. “Federal law enforcement have made at least 445 arrests and counting relating to crimes committed that day, hundreds of those people have been charged, law enforcement investigations are ongoing, and federal authorities say they expect to arrest at least 100 or so more.”
The top Republican went on to accuse House Democrats of organizing the commission in bad faith, and argued it was not clear what new information could be gleaned from it.
Democrats, meanwhile, have argued that by subpoenaing McCarthy, investigators could find out what Trump said to him during their phone conversations in the midst of the riot.
McConnell’s opposition leaves Democrats with an uphill climb to find 10 Republicans willing to support the probe.
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