McConnell announces opposition to bill that would create Jan. 6 commission
The House approved the bill Wednesday and 35 Republicans voted with Democrats.
Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday morning that he intends to oppose a bill that would create a commission to examine the events of Jan. 6 -- a reversal from one day ago when he told reporters he was undecided on the plan.
The House approved the commission 252-175, with 35 Republicans voting with Democrats. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., in floor remarks earlier Wednesday, reaffirmed his commitment to bringing the commission to a vote on the Senate floor, which would need 60 votes to pass through the divided chamber.
McConnell called the proposal for the commission, which gained some bipartisan support after negotiations from rank-and-file Republicans, "slanted and unbalanced" during his floor remarks.
"House Democrats have handled this proposal in partisan bad faith going right back to the beginning. From initially offering a laughable starting point to continuing to insist on various features under the hood that are designed to centralize control over the commission's process and its conclusions in Democratic hands," McConnell said, a day after House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy rejected the proposed commission.
Repeating arguments made by some Senate Republicans, McConnell also said it's unclear whether a commission is needed with multiple Senate and police investigations already ongoing.
"It's not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could actually lay on top of existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress," McConnell said. "The facts have come out and they'll continue to come out."
McConnell's comments came after former President Donald Trump released a statement Tuesday night warning that "Republicans in the House and Senate should not approve the Democrat trap of the January 6 Commission."
"Republicans must get much tougher and much smarter, and stop being used by the Radical Left," the statement concludes. "Hopefully, Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy are listening!"
It’s unclear where the votes now stand with Senate Republicans, many of whom have not been paying attention to the issue until Tuesday when it was the topic at their weekly, closed-door lunch.
While the House passed the bill Wednesday evening, the Senate won't take up the legislation until after the weeklong Memorial Day recess that's scheduled to start next Thursday. Schumer has not yet publicly laid out a timeline for a Senate vote on the commission. When the vote hits the floor will depend on a number of factors including whether amendments will be allowed and if there are enough Republicans to potentially support it and break through filibusters.
There are a handful of Republicans who might vote to support a commission, including some of the seven who voted to convict Trump for "incitement of insurrection." For example, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., has said he is "inclined to support" a commission. And while Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Maine’s Susan Collins said they want to see some changes to the legislation, like ensuring a final report is published this year and not during next year’s midterms, the duo supports the idea.
In January, in the wake of the attack on the Capitol, McConnell placed blame squarely on President Donald Trump for the assault, saying he had "provoked" the violent mob of the president's supporters.
"The mob was fed lies," McConnell said on the Senate floor. "They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like."
Schumer, in his floor remarks Wednesday, slammed House Republicans for their objection to the commission, calling it "beyond crazy" and accusing Republicans of "caving to Donald Trump."
"What the Republicans are doing -- the House Republicans -- is beyond crazy, to be so far under the thumb of Donald J Trump, letting the most dishonest president in American history dictate the prerogatives of the Republican party will be its demise, mark my words," Schumer said.
On Wednesday, Capitol Police said in a statement that the department does "not take positions on legislation," after a Democratic House office distributed what they said was an anonymous letter from Capitol Police officers criticizing comments made by GOP leaders about the Jan. 6 commission proposal.
Rep. Jamie Raskin's office said the letter was given to them by officers who feared retribution, on behalf of 40 to 50 members of the Capitol Police force -- a claim ABC News could not immediately verify. Julie Tagen, Raskin's chief of staff, distributed the letter to an email list of Republican and Democratic chiefs of staff Wednesday afternoon.
ABC News' Libby Cathey and Benjamin Siegel contributed to this report.