Democratic legislators from North Jersey swiftly spoke out against the Senate’s failure to create an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol that sought to prevent Congress from certifying the 2020 presidential election results.
On May 28, the majority of Senate Republicans opposed the House-passed bill that would have formed a bipartisan panel to probe the siege. Though six members of the GOP broke with their party in the 54-35 vote, the measure fell short of the 60 votes needed to proceed.
Following the vote, New Jersey lawmakers—all of whom backed the formation of the commission —condemned the outcome.
‘Marching Orders From Mar-a-Lago’
Sen. Bob Menendez said in a statement that Republicans “have chosen fealty to Donald Trump over their oath to uphold and defend the United States Constitution, lies over truth, party over country, authoritarianism over democracy and the self-interests of one man over the well-being of the American people.”
“It is clear my Republican colleagues take their marching orders from Mar-a-Lago and not from the people they were elected to represent,” Menendez commented.
He added, “The American people deserve—and want—to know what happened on January 6, what led to the attack on our democracy, who was responsible and how we can improve security and future responses to threats at the U.S. Capitol to ensure this never happens again. An independent January 6 commission that puts partisanship aside is our best chance to get to the unvarnished truth.”
Sen. Cory Booker tweeted a “thorough, independent investigation” into deadly insurrection is “critical to our democracy.”
“Continuing to ignore facts and avoid pursuing the truth will do nothing to stop this from happening again,” Booker said.
‘One Of The Darkest Days In American History’
Rep. Albio Sires believes the GOP’s failure to advance the bill is “an attempt to erase and reshape history.”
“A commission is necessary in order to understand security failures, the delayed response from the Department of Defense and the culpability of politicians who encouraged rioters,” Sires stated. “To truly learn from these events and protect against future threats, a commission is essential.”
January 6, which Sires described as “one of the darkest days in American history,” should be “a wakeup call for us to focus on rooting out disinformation which can incite violence.”
Efforts To Block Commission Are ‘Disgraceful’
Rep. Bill Pascrell called the blockade “disgraceful,” saying it is the latest demonstration by Republicans of “their hostility to the American experiment and democracy itself.”
“Let us never, ever forget that hours after the Capitol insurrection, with broken glass still on the floor, over two-thirds of the House Republican caucus voted to fulfill the rioters’ demented quest and overturn the election,” the congressman said.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer wrote in a Facebook post that he was “deeply disappointed” that some of his colleagues in the Senate blocked efforts to create the panel.
“This commission is critical for getting to the bottom of one of the worst attacks on our democracy in history,” said Gottheimer, who went on to urge legislators to “put partisanship aside” and “do better on behalf of the American people.”
Commission Is ‘Necessary To Heal As A Nation’
“They’ve failed in their duty to the country, they’ve failed in their duty to Congress and they’ve failed in their obligation to the Capitol Police, Congressional staff and other members whose lives were threatened on January 6,” said Sherrill.
The commission, Sherrill continued, is bipartisan, independent and “necessary to confront what happened that day to build a more resilient democracy and heal as a nation.”
The proposed commission, modeled on the one established to investigate the 9/11 terror attacks, would have 10 commissioners—five Democrats and five Republicans—who would have subpoena powers.
The panel would examine what happened on January 6 and the reasons why it occurred, including whether Trump and congressional Republicans played any role in encouraging the attack.
While Democrats have argued the commission is needed to investigate the events of January 6, Republicans were concerned it could damage the party politically ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
GOP leaders have also said that the commission could duplicate existing efforts by the U.S. Justice Department and congressional committees to investigate the pro-Trump mob attack, which led to five deaths, including that of Capitol Police Officer and New Jersey native Brian Sicknick.
Democrats to Proceed
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has not publicly announced what the next move will be, but after the vote she pledged that “Democrats will proceed to find the truth.”
In a statement she said that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the GOP’s “denial of the truth of the January 6 insurrection brings shame to the Senate.”
“Republicans’ cowardice in rejecting the truth of that dark day makes our Capitol and our country less safe,” Pelosi added.