Colorado’s Senators Want A Commission To Investigate Jan. 6, But They’re Not Surprised It Won’t Happen

J. Scott Applewhite/AP
The Capitol is seen behind reinforced barricades as the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump begins in the Senate in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021.

Despite a last minute push by the family of fallen Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick and another officer injured after a pro-Trump mob stormed of the U.S. Capitol, Senate Republicans are poised to block a vote on a bill that would create a bipartisan commission to examine the events of January 6.

In the evenly divided Senate, 10 Republicans would have to vote yes to avoid the filibuster. So far, only three have gone on record saying they support the creation of the commission. 

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has come out against the measure, which would have followed the model of the 9/11 Commission, much to the chagrin—but not to the surprise—of Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

The American people “deserve to have a bipartisan examination of what led to the events of January 6th and what actually happened on January 6th,” Bennet said. 

He also told MSNBC earlier that he was grateful to Sicknick’s mother and the others who have “the reservoir of courage” to insist on a commission.

Colorado’s junior senator, John Hickenlooper, said the commission is needed to “get the facts” so that “future generations can see what happened and know what happened. I think that’s worth spending some time on.”

McConnell said there is no need for a dedicated commission, noting congressional committees and the Department of Justice are already investigating the events of the day. 

“I do not believe the additional, extraneous “commission” that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts or promote healing. Frankly, I do not believe it is even designed to,” McConnell said on the floor. 

It’s a position that’s frustrating the chamber’s most moderate Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He said there is no excuse for any Republican to vote against the bill. “Mitch McConnell has made this his political position, thinking it will help his 2022 elections. They do not believe the truth will set you free, so they will continue to live in fear.”

Manchin, however, does not support doing away with the filibuster in order to pass the measure, a move some Democrats have talked about in response to Republican blocades on this and other bills. 

The inability of the two parties to come to agreement underscores the deep partisan divide that has grown around the insurrection over the past five months since it occurred, with some Republicans downplaying the events of that day

The bill to set up the commission was negotiated between Democrats and Republicans in the House. Democrats agreed to an evenly divided panel, modeled on the 9/11 commission, including hiring of staff. Subpoenas would need bipartisan support and the work would have to be done by the end of the year, to avoid the 2022 political season. While many Republicans are concerned about the potential political fallout of the commission, it’s mandate would also include examining the security failures that led to the storming of the Capitol..

The bill passed the House 252-175 last week. The Colorado House delegation split along party lines, with Democrats supporting the creation of the commission and Republicans against.

CPR’s coverage of Colorado’s congressional delegation focuses on accountability and on providing information constituents need to live their lives. Read more about our priorities here.