Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced his opposition to the January 6 commission bill Wednesday just hours before the House is scheduled to vote on it.
“I’ve made the decision to oppose the House Democrats’ slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of January the 6th,” he said.
He gave essentially the same reasons for his opposition that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) did Tuesday: there are already ongoing prosecutions and congressional investigations, and the commission should include a larger scope to encompass various other acts of political violence that are unrelated to Jan. 6.
GOP leadership quickly fell in line.
“I am concerned that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are going to make this absolutely as partisan as they can. That’s by their design,” GOP conference chair Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) told reporters. “And I don’t think there’s anything to be served by that.”
Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the minority whip, told reporters that the commission is not something that they’ve “assessed or whipped yet,” but said that there’s “skepticism about what’s happening in the House right now and whether what comes out will be a proposal that’s fair.”
The House vote, made more dramatic by reported Tuesday night scrambling on the part of House GOP leadership to contain possible defections, will be a key indicator of how likely the bill is to survive the Senate filibuster. If there is significant aisle-crossing, it’ll increase the pressure on Senate Republicans not to kill it.
McConnell’s comments may help limit those House defections, though, as it makes the bill’s future seem much more imperiled. House Republicans may be less likely to take the harder vote to pass the bill in the House if it seems destined for death in the Senate.
The bill is expected to pass the House Wednesday afternoon.