The House of Representatives voted to create an independent bipartisan committee on Wednesday, but the bill still has a way to go as supporters seek the votes of the 10 Republican senators needed to get it into law. The question remains open, albeit perplexed, as to whether Republican senators will oppose an investigation into an armed attack that prompted them to flee for their safety.
“We have 35, I’m optimistic on the Senate side,” Thompson said on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront”.
John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio, tentatively wondered on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” whether the size of the GOP vote for a commission was the “start of the split. dam “against Trump.
“It is a blow to the leaders that they have lost these people and it will give momentum to the Senate to see if they can find the 10 people to say they should get to the bottom of this,” the former president of Trump declared in 2016. presidential primary opponent.
Trump’s power is still dominant
It should be remembered that 35 Republican votes in favor of the commission represent a small fraction of the entire GOP caucus. A total of 175 Republicans voted against the panel’s establishment, the best hope of arriving at a national set of facts about Trump’s successful coup attempt against Congress.
The important vote against a deal to establish the inquiry, which drew concessions from Democrats and was negotiated by New York GOP Representative John Katko, showed Trump’s still dynamic power within the party.
Late Tuesday, Trump questioned in a statement whether McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were “listening” to his attempt to whitewash a blatant assault on American democracy.
Within 24 hours, the ex-president had his response. McCarthy was told by sources to place intense pressure on his GOP members who were considering supporting the bipartisan compromise.
His decision not only showed Trump’s power, but also how much the party needs the grassroots voters that the McConnells and McCarthy rely on in their quest to regain control of the House and Senate during the elections. midterm elections next year.
A tough decision for GOP senators
The fact that there was no overwhelming support to investigate an incident in which a sitting president sent his mob to attack Congress in an attempt to disrupt the transfer of power to his successor tells a telling story about the state of American politics.
The decision of McConnell, who strongly condemned the insurgency on Capitol Hill but ultimately made the political calculation not to condemn the former president in his impeachment trial, could be crucial.
In fact, he gave many of his Senate troops the cover to vote against the creation of the commission on the grounds that it had been too politicized by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and that it would risk undermining the commission. a large number of criminal prosecutors against Jan. 6. rioters.
The bill is in doubt as Republicans face the same political choices they faced when most of them hesitated to hold Trump accountable in his second impeachment trial for the popular attack he instigated.
The sanctity of free elections and the two-and-a-half-century American experience of democratic autonomy is one thing. But any senator who wants a future in the party and the chance to enjoy life in a GOP majority after the midterm elections needs the most engaged voters of the former president.
There are many examples of what happens to Republicans ready to challenge Trump. Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, who has placed the principle of peaceful transfers of power above her own career, has lost her leadership position in the House. Republicans in the House and Senate who voted to impeach and convict Trump have been ostracized by colleagues, censored by local parties, and are already watching the challenges of key pro-Trump opponents.
An emerging mid-term strategy
Besides Trump’s influence, there are several other reasons Republican leaders oppose a formal commission like the one that investigated the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Any final report from the commission is likely to strongly criticize the role of the former president by claiming that the US election was stolen and then inciting angry supporters to march on the US Capitol as Congress certifies defeat.
A panel armed with subpoena powers could also call key figures like McCarthy himself for high-level sworn testimony about his own involvement in the insurgency, including an angry phone call with Trump as it unfolds of its progress. It would be deeply embarrassing since McCarthy has harnessed his party to Trump’s ever-hot political star as he tries to win the president’s hammer next year.
While it would also investigate failures in the United States Capitol Police and security around the Capitol, the commission might also be likely to note the role played by many members of Congress in stoking Trump’s lies about electoral fraud.
And it would be a massive public spectacle, with days of televised hearings and testimony likely to harm Trump and his party.
Republican leaders have also been remarkably open about other reasons for their reluctance to vote for the commission: They want to step up the pressure on President Joe Biden over his broad liberal agenda and focus on their midpoint message.
South Dakota Senator John Thune, Republican No. 2 in the Senate, has said he is okay with a commission, as long as it is set up in a way that cannot be politically militarized by the Democrats.
But he also told CNN on Wednesday that he wanted to talk about the “kinds of things the American people face: it’s jobs and wages, the economy and national security, safe streets and strong borders – without relaunch the 2020 elections. “
“A lot of our members, and I think a lot of Republicans in the House, want to move forward and not look back. contrast between us the very radical left agenda of the Democrats, ”he added.
Any search for the 10 votes needed to enshrine the commission would likely start with the seven Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in February because of the insurgency.
Several of them, like Utah Senator Mitt Romney and Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski, have long established themselves as enemies of Trump and likely have little to lose politically by supporting an investigation. Others, like Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, are retiring and therefore may be less constrained by a mid-term focus than some of their colleagues and have the luxury of not worrying. of the main future challenges.
But a senator like Bill Cassidy of Louisiana – who surprisingly voted to condemn the former president may now have reason to hold his head down – has more difficult questions to answer as he reflects on his vote.
Another senator who voted for the conviction, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, said on Wednesday that she felt Pelosi had politicized the commission and could not support it in its current form.
And even if the seven Republicans who voted to condemn Trump for the Capitol insurgency stay in line on the current issue, Democrats are still expected to find three more Republicans to rebel against McConnell.
Complicated math suggests that the 35 conscience votes in the House on Wednesday night may not be the harbinger of an even bigger revolt against the former Senate speaker.
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