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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell heads to a Senate Republican Policy luncheon Tuesday. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told his fellow Republicans during a closed-door caucus lunch Tuesday he can't support a Jan. 6 commission in its current form, two sources familiar with his remarks tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senate Republicans are bracing for a House vote Wednesday. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) opposes the commission but several Republicans are expected to buck leadership — making it more difficult for Senate Republicans to dismiss it.

What we're hearing: McConnell made comments to his colleagues along the lines of, "There’s 41 of us who could change this, and I think we should,” according to one of the sources. A second source confirmed the nature of the comments.

  • When McConnell finished, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) — who's retiring in 2023 — also stood up and questioned aspects of the deal.
  • The senators did not indicate the deal is DOA in the Senate, the sources said, but made clear they would want to see substantive changes.
  • Such changes being discussed more broadly among some Republicans include ensuring the panel is truly bipartisan.
  • Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), who struck the deal with Democrats in the House, voted to impeach Trump — raising concerns among his fellow Republicans.

McConnell spoke publicly following the lunch and said he is "pushing the pause button" on the legislation, adding the GOP conference is “undecided."

  • He also noted the Justice Department and other congressional oversight committees are investigating the insurrection.
  • McConnell questioned whether a new commission would interfere with that work.

Between the lines: Most Republican members are wary of the commission and want to reframe the narrative away from the insurrection.

  • A prominent concern is that it could be weaponized to subpoena members.
  • There's also concerns it might alienate members of the GOP base, as well as former President Trump — who was impeached by the House for inciting the riot.
  • Alternatively, they recognize that if an investigation is going to take place, it's better to have a hand in investigating it than to allow Democrats to be fully in control.

Go deeper

McCarthy comes out against bipartisan deal on Jan. 6 commission

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will oppose a bipartisan deal announced last week that would form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, his office announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: McCarthy's opposition to the deal, which was negotiated by the top Republican and Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, underscores the internal divisions that continue to plague the GOP in the wake of Jan. 6.

Manchin, Murkowski call for reauthorization of Voting Right Act

Photo: Al Drago via Getty Images

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) sent a letter this week urging to congressional leaders to advance a bipartisan reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which banned discriminatory voting practices.

Why it matters: The bipartisan letter comes as Manchin faces criticism for withholding his support for the "For the People Act," a sweeping bill that would expand ballot access.

Liz Cheney says she won't vote for McCarthy for speaker if GOP wins House

Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Former House Republican conference chair Rep. Liz Cheney told Politico she wouldn’t vote for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for speaker next year if the GOP won back the House majority.

Why it matters: Cheney has signaled she will continue to be a voice of opposition against Donald Trump and factions of her own party, including those like McCarthy who she believes have enabled the former president and his lies.

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