Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is not known as Congress’ most honest member, but the Kentucky Republican is occasionally candid in ways that are helpful.
McConnell was frank and forthcoming, for example, throughout the Obama era about his refusal to consider compromises with the Democratic White House. More recently, the GOP senator has also been candid about rallying opposition against an infrastructure plan and about devoting 100% of his focus to “stopping” the Biden administration’s agenda.
Yesterday, as Politico reported, McConnell was candid anew on the bipartisan plan to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrectionist attack on the Capitol.
McConnell warned Republicans at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday that regardless of tweaks to the bill that approving the commission could hurt the party’s midterm election message, according to attendees. He left that room and promptly told reporters that while Democrats want to talk about Trump, voters who’ll determine control of Congress next fall “ought to focus on what this administration is doing to the country.”
In the hopes of satisfying GOP demands, House Democrats made a series of concessions about the structure and scope of the proposed Jan. 6 panel. House Republicans, who probably thought their unreasonable demands would scuttle any possible deal, responded by saying they wouldn’t take “yes” for an answer.
Fortunately, McConnell’s approach doesn’t bother with pretenses: he wants to target President Joe Biden and position his party for the 2022 midterm elections. An independent commission would do nothing to advance those goals, so he wants Republicans to oppose it. Period. Full stop.
Answering questions about a deadly insurrectionist attack on the United States’ seat of government sounds fine, but for McConnell, prioritizing a partisan electoral strategy sounds a lot better.
Nevertheless, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) formally began the process last night of bringing the commission plan to the floor for a vote. Procedurally, the first rung on the ladder will be something called the motion to proceed, which is a vote in which senators agree to begin a debate.
It’s at this point that the Republican minority will use a filibuster to block the debate and try to kill the proposal. We’ll likely see this play out as early as tomorrow.
It would take 10 GOP senators to break ranks and advance the legislation, and as things stand, proponents are not close to reaching such a goal. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) appear to be “yes” votes, and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) expressed tacit support for the plan yesterday. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) also appears to be a likely supporter, though she’s still trying to tweak the details on the parties’ control over commission staff — as if such changes are genuinely important to her Republican brethren.