Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Wednesday tore into the flimsiness of Republican senators’ argument for opposing the House-passed bill to create a bipartisan commission to probe the Jan. 6 Capitol attacks.
During a Senate floor speech Schumer took aim at his colleagues, opening his remarks by warning against the GOP embrace of the big lie of a stolen election that former President Trump continues to push. He then called out Republican lawmakers who also espouse election fraud falsehoods.
“There is a lack of courage from the other side when it comes to defeating these lies,” Schumer said, pointing to House Republicans who have downplayed the Capitol attack by painting the mob behind the insurrection as peaceful protesters. Schumer also cited Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-WY) ouster as the No. 3 Republican as a result of her refusal to bend to Trump’s will like the rest of her colleagues.
“We need an independent, trusted, bipartisan commission now more than ever,” Schumer said. “It’s critically important to establish a trusted record of events and begin to restore faith in our democracy.”
Schumer went on to excoriate Republicans who initially expressed support for the Jan. 6 commission’s formation, but have since distanced themselves from their previous remarks.
“Our Senate Republican colleagues have gone from mostly supporting the idea of an independent commission to mostly opposing one, and they can’t seem to get their stories straight,” Schumer said.
Schumer dismissed Republicans’ anti-commission arguments as “silly,” alluding to recent contradictory remarks against the proposal made by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and John Thune (R-SD). Blunt said he thinks it’s “too early” for a commission and Thune argued that he could see the investigation “dragging on indefinitely.”
“Which is it? Too early, too late? Of course both concerns are silly,” Schumer said. “There is no justification for a waiting period, and the legislation itself includes a firm deadline for the commission to issue a report, no later than December 31 of this year.”
Schumer commended the 35 House Republicans who bucked GOP leadership to approve the commission establishing bill last week, disputing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) talking points that the House-passed bill is partisan. The proposed commission that passed the House would be bipartisan.
“Hello? I hate to break it to my Republican colleagues, but the legislation passed by the House is modeled after the 9/11 commission, and, you guessed it, would be chaired by outside independent personnel appointed by both parties,” Schumer said. “They say they want that in the bill, it’s in the bill.”
Schumer then cited McConnell’s private remarks to Republicans that were reported by Politico earlier Wednesday, calling out the GOP for putting partisan gains over accountability for the Capitol insurrection that Trump and some of his colleagues in the House and Senate helped incite. McConnell reportedly said in private that he opposes any independent inquiry because he’s concerned an investigation could hurt the Republican Party’s “midterm election message,” a sentiment some of his colleagues have already expressed publicly.
“What’s really going on here? Why the various shifting reasons? Why Republicans can’t support a simple bipartisan, down the middle, 50-50 commission to report on a very serious event in our nation’s history?” Schumer said. “Well, it seems the real reason has nothing to do with the structure of the commission, nothing to do with the details of the bill. It all has to do with politics.”
Schumer concluded his remarks by warning Senate Republicans against letting the big lie fester and urging them to “rise to the occasion” by supporting the Jan. 6 commission.