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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate failed to reach the 60 votes necessary to advance a bill creating a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, voting 54-35 as Republicans invoked the first legislative filibuster of the Biden presidency.

Why it matters: Democrats argue the commission is urgently needed to investigate one of the darkest days in U.S. history. Republicans fear the commission could be weaponized to damage them politically ahead of the 2022 midterms.

Zoom in: The six Republicans who voted in favor of the commission were Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Mitt Romney (Utah), and Ben Sasse (Neb.).

  • A spokesperson for Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said he missed the vote because he had a "family commitment," but would have voted in favor of advancing the legislation.
  • Toomey was one of 11 senators who missed the vote, including Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Richard Shelby (R-Alal.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

What they're saying: "I am sorry if an independent commission to study an attack on our democracy isn't a Republican ad-makers idea of a good time. This is too important," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor on Thursday.

  • Schumer asked Republicans in a speech on Friday, moments before the vote: "What are you afraid of, the truth? Are you afraid that Donald Trump’s Big Lie will be dispelled?"
  • "The Department of Justice is deep into a massive criminal investigation," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) countered. "I do not believe the additional, extraneous 'commission' that Democratic leaders want would uncover crucial new facts or promote healing. Frankly, I do not believe it is even designed to."

Behind the scenes: Republicans have privately said that a 9/11-style commission would be a political mess for the GOP and could jeopardize Senate seats next year, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

  • Former President Trump, who remains the most popular figure in the GOP, has condemned the proposed commission as "partisan" and demanded investigations into left-wing political violence during racial-justice protests last year.
  • Ahead of the vote, the mother of fallen Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick met privately with Republicans to urge them to vote for the bill. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican who has sought to downplay the severity of the Capitol attack, said he "respectfully disagreed" with her on the "added value of the proposed commission."

Catch up quick: 35 Republicans supported the bill passed in the House, which was negotiated between the top Democrat and Republican on the Homeland Security Committee.

  • Murkowski, Romney and Collins were the only GOP senators to publicly say they would vote for the commission prior to Friday — though Collins said she wanted to see changes to the House bill.
  • Murkowski blasted McConnell on Friday for refusing to back the commission, accusing the leader of her party of putting "short-term political gain" over finding out the truth about the deadly insurrection.
  • Cassidy said in a statement after voting in favor of advancing the bill: "The investigations will happen with or without Republicans. To ensure the investigations are fair, impartial, and focused on the facts, Republicans need to be involved."
  • Moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) — who publicly oppose eliminating the filibuster — had pushed Senate Republicans to "find a path forward" on the commission so "our nation never has to endure an attack at the hands of our countrymen again."
  • Manchin said on Thursday that he would not be willing to "destroy our government" by getting rid of the filibuster if Republicans blocked the commission, but added: "You have to have faith there's ten good people."

What to watch: House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) previously told reporters that Democrats would likely pursue a select committee if the bill fell short in the Senate.

Go deeper

Jan. 6 select committee elevates Liz Cheney to vice chair

Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Xinhua via Getty Images

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chair of the House select committee in charge of investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, announced Thursday that he has named Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as vice chair.

Why it matters: Cheney, who was already the committee's top Republican, is now the panel's second-ranking member, an unusual move for a committee dominated by Democrats due to House GOP leadership's refusal to participate.

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.

Updated 16 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

Contractors working on behalf of the GOP examine and recount 2020 ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix in May. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.