GOP set to block 1/6 panel, stoking Senate filibuster fight

In this May 26, 2021, photo, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves a GOP lunch at the Capitol in Washington. Senate Republicans are ready to deploy the filibuster to block legislation establishing a commission on the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection. A vote is expected Thursday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(WASHINGTON) — Senate Republicans are ready to deploy the filibuster to block a commission on the Jan. 6 insurrection, shattering chances for a bipartisan probe of the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol and reviving pressure to do away with the procedural tactic that critics say has lost its purpose.

The vote Thursday would be the first successful use of a filibuster in the Biden presidency to halt Senate legislative action. Most Republicans oppose the bill that would establish a commission to investigate the attack by Donald Trump supporters over the election.

“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 Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat. “That tells you what’s wrong with the Senate and what’s wrong with the filibuster.”

The filibuster is 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 would need support of 10 Republicans to move to the commission bill, sparking fresh debate over whether the time has come to change the rules and lower the threshold to 51 votes to take up legislation.

The House already approved the measure with 35 Republican votes. But Trump has made it clear he opposes the formation of any panel to investigate the Jan. 6 siege, when a violent mob of his supporters broke into the Capitol in a failed effort to overturn Joe Biden’s election. 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.

“There is no excuse for any Republican to vote against this commission,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., while still making clear that he would not support efforts to do away with the filibuster.