Democrats in the U.S. Senate urged Republicans on Thursday to join them in voting to support a commission to probe the deadly attack on the Capitol by Donald Trump’s supporters, although the idea seemed to lack critical support ahead of a vote.
Senators argued for hours about the need for a commission, while also working to advance a sweeping tech bill taking aim at China in a marathon session that stretched into the evening.
“Let’s get down to basics here. Many of the Republican members are afraid of the man who incited this,” said the Senate’s No. 2 Democrat, Dick Durbin. “They’re afraid of Donald Trump.”
Democrats have urged a bipartisan probe similar to the one Congress approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but this time reviewing the Jan. 6 assault on the seat of American democracy by hundreds of supporters of Trump fired up by the then-president’s false claims that his November election defeat was the result of fraud.
Five people died in the violence.
Republicans argue that a congressional commission is not needed in addition to probes by committees and a sweeping Justice Department investigation that has already resulted in more than 440 arrests.
But they are also concerned that the probe will keep the attention on Trump and the Jan. 6 violence as the 2022 congressional election season picks up.
Just three Senate Republicans have said they will vote to allow floor consideration of the measure, which passed the House of Representatives with the support of all Democrats and one in six Republicans.
The three Senate supporters are well short of the 10 Republicans needed under the Senate’s rules, which require 60 votes for a bill to advance. Democrats back establishment of an investigative panel, and the Senate is divided 50-50 along partisan lines.
A U.S. judge said this week there is a risk that Trump’s supporters could carry out attacks similar to the assault on the Capitol, noting the former president’s “near-daily fulminations” about his election loss.