Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on Wednesday afternoon made two key tweaks to the House-passed Jan, 6 commission bill in a last-ditch effort to avoid a Republican filibuster, amid her colleagues signaling that the bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate.
Collins hopes that her modifications to the commission bill will prompt more Republicans to get behind it, even with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) opposition. On Sunday, Collins said that she “strongly” supports an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, but only under certain circumstances.
“I want to have a commission. The House bill needs to be improved. And one of the flaws of the House bill is that it has the chairman essentially appointing all of the staff,” Collins said, according to Politico. “For the commission to be successful it has to be nonpartisan and we know that if it’s stacked with partisan staff that it will get off to a bad start.”
Politico reported that Collins would not specify whether she can get the 10 Republican notes needed for the bill to pass the Senate. But Collins said that she will vote this week to break a filibuster, while claiming that “most people” she talks to “believe that this would improve the bill regardless of whether they’re for the commission or not,” according to Politico.
Collins’ revisions to the commission bill include proposing that the chair and vice chair of the committee “jointly” appoint staff — a tweak made in response to the GOP talking point that the House-passed bill is partisan for a laundry list of bad faith reasons. In the event that the chair and vice chair deadlock for 10 days after the formation of the panel, the two sides would be allowed to appoint their own staff, according to Politico.
Additionally, Collins proposed winding down the panel 30 days after the commission submits its final report at the end of the year, instead of 60 days.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mitt Romney (R-UT), who emerged as the first Republican senators that support the commission bill, are reportedly supportive of Collins’ revisions. According to Politico, Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) expressed interest in supporting Collins’ modifications during a Tuesday party lunch.
However, Collins’ modifications to the bill are unlikely to change the minds of her Republican colleagues who have candidly admitted that they don’t want the Jan. 6 commission to encroach on the 2022 midterms. Politico reported earlier Wednesday that McConnell privately told Republicans that he opposes any independent inquiry because he’s concerned an investigation could hurt the Republican Party’s “midterm election message.”
Last week, both McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) voiced their opposition to the Jan. 6 commission, before the House bill for it passed. McConnell and McCarthy complained that the bill was partisan, despite how the proposed commission would be evenly split between both parties.
Sens. John Barrasso (R-WY) and Roy Blunt, both of whom serve in GOP leadership, have also come out against the House-passed bill.