The mother of slain Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick and his longtime girlfriend were on Capitol Hill Thursday trying to convince Republican senators not to doom the House-passed bill that would create a 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol riot.
‘This is why I’m here today,’ Gladys Sicknick said when asked if she was angry at GOP lawmakers not supportive of a commission. ‘Usually I’m staying in the background and I just couldn’t, I couldn’t stay quiet anymore.’
Sicknick’s mother and girlfriend, Sandra Garza, were joined by Michael Fanone, a D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer who suffered a heart attack and concussion from the attack and Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who said rioters called him racial slurs on January 6.
Gladys Sicknick (left), the mother of slain Capitol Hill Police Officer, and Michael Fanone (right), a D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer who suffered a heart attack and concussion from the attack, arrive for a meeting Thursday with Sen. Ron Johnson
(From left) Gladys Sicknick, Officer Michael Fanone, Sandra Garza, Officer Harry Dunn and former Rep. Barbara Cornstock walk through a Senate office building as they meet with Republican senators on the 1/6 commission bill
Sandra Garza, the longtime girlfriend of the late Capitol Hill Police Officer Brian Sicknick, leaves a meeting Thursday with Sen. Mitt Romney, the only Republican who has said he will vote yes on a bill that will create a 1/6 commission
Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn (center) has said he was called racist slurs by rioters on January 6. He speaks to the press flanked by D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone (left) and Brian Sicknick’s longtime girlfriend Sandra Garza (right)
Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died of injuries sustained during the January 6 Capitol riot
So far their precense of Capitol Hill hasn’t changed minds.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell opened Thursday’s session announcing he remained against the bill to create a commission.
‘I do not believe the additional extraneous commission the Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts or promote healing,’ McConnell said. ‘Frankly, I do not believe it is even designed to do that.’
McConnell accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of presenting lawmakers with a ‘laughably rigged and partisan starting point’ and said the commission remained significantly unfair to Republicans ‘under the hood.’
‘So I’ll continue to support the real serious work of our criminal justice system and our own Senate committees and I’ll continue to urge my colleagues to oppose this extraneous layer when the times comes for the Senate to vote,’ McConnell said.
Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican and ally of President Donald Trump, sent out a statement after meeting with Sicknick, Garza, Fanone and Dunn.
Johnson said he expressed his condolences but also asked ‘what questions regarding Jan. 6 they are seeking answers to.’
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives on the Senate floor Thursday. McConnell announced on the Senate floor that he remained opposed to the legislation that would create a 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6 MAGA riot
‘Although we respectfully disagreed on the added value of the proposed commission, I did commit to doing everything I could to ensure all their questions will be answered,’ he said.
On Wednesday, Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, sent around amendments for the bill that she thought might make it more palatable for Republicans.
On the Democratic side, Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema implored GOP lawmakers not to tank the bill.
Manchin and Sinema, both moderates, have stood firm against some members of their party’s desire to change the filibuster rules.
Thus Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will need 60 votes when he puts the bill up for a test vote later Thursday.
‘There is no excuse for any Republican to vote against this commission since Democrats have agreed to everything they asked for,’ Manchin said in a statement Thursday morning. ‘Mitch McConnell has made this his political position, thinking it will help his 2022 elections. They do not believe the truth will set you free, so they continue to live in fear.’
Schumer said Thursday on the floor, ‘Senate Republicans must decide if they’re on the side of truth or on the side of Donald Trump’s big lie.’
He gave a longer speech Wednesday in support of the bill after filing cloture on it the night before.
‘There is an obvious and urgent need to establish such a commission,’ Schumer said. ‘What happened on January 6 was a travesty. The culmination of months of deliberate lies about our elections, propogated by the former president – a dishonest man – and his allies.’
‘I shouldn’t need to remind this chamber of the scene on January 6. We were all there,’ Schumer continued. ‘At one point I was within 20 feet of these white supremacist hooligans,’ he added.
Footage of Schumer’s narrow escape had been shared during former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial.
Schumer is having Senate Republicans go on the record with a vote after party leadership walked away last week from a bipartisan deal struck by House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson and New York Republican Rep. John Katko, the committee’s ranking member.
On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced that he would not support the legislation, with Republican Whip Steve Scalise asking members to vote no on the bill during the House’s floor vote Wednesday.
The Democratic majority got the legisation through, with 35 Republican members defecting from the party and voting in favor of it. The final vote was 252-175.
In the hours preceding the House vote, McConnell announced he would not be supporting the commission either – despite a public falling out with Trump.
McConnell also didn’t vote to convict Trump for inciting an insurrection during the Senate’s impeachment trial in February.
On Tuesday, Politico reported that McConnell had warned his GOP colleagues during a closed-door session that the report could be released in the middle of the 2022 election cycle, as Republicans try to take back the Senate and the House from Democratic hands.
Republicans, including McConnell, have argued publicly that the commission would duplicate ongoing efforts by law enforcement and Senate committees looking into January 6.
Democrats need 10 Republican senators to join them to override a filibuster.
GOP Sen. Mitt Romney is the only public yes.
Other moderates including Republicans Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Bill Cassidy and Rob Portman have suggested they could vote yes too, but that still falls short in the number Democrats would need.
Schumer called out McConnell on the Senate floor for what Politico had reported about the Kentucky Republican’s fears that it could hurt his party’s midterm prospects.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will force a vote Thursday on the House-passed bill that creates a 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6 MAGA riot
A man carries a Confederate flag through the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 attack. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called rioters on Wednesday ‘white supremacist hooligans’
‘Look, I am sorry if an independent commission to study an attack on our democracy isn’t a Republican ad-maker’s idea of a good time,’ Schumer scoffed.
He also ribbed an unnamed Republican who called for ‘outside independent investigators’ to be put in charge of the investigation like the 9/11 commission.
‘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.
Schumer also argued an investigation into January 6 was important because ‘faith in our democracy, in our elections, has nose-dived.’
‘In a variety of polls, listen to this, in a variety of polls more than half of the Republican Party believes the election was rigged and Joe Biden isn’t the real president. That is a flashing red warning sign for our democracy,’ he said. ‘If the American people, a large chunk of them, believe the big lie. If the majority of Americans believe that our elections are not on the level, we are on the road to ruin. This grand beautiful, wonderful, several century-old democracy could teeter.’