Romney: 'I Would Support the Bill' to Create Jan. 6 Commission Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, questions Zalmay Khalilzad, special envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation, as he testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 27, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Tuesday, 25 May 2021 07:18 AM
Sen. Mitt Romney is the first Republican senator to say publicly that he supports a bill passed in the House to create an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 incidents at the Capitol.
The Utah Republican, a frequent critic of former President Donald Trump, responded "I would support the bill" Monday, after reporters asked him how he would vote if Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tries to start debate on the House bill, reports The Hill.
It will take votes from 60 senators to defeat a GOP filibuster. Romney was not asked how he'd vote on a final passage of the House bill, which would then need to pass by a simple majority, and his office did not respond to whether he will change his vote after helping to defeat his party's filibuster.
Schumer has vowed to bring the House bill up for a vote, which could result in the first successful filibuster in the 117th Congress. He has not said when the vote will be brought up, but said on Monday it could happen "very soon," even as Democrats are still short of the votes they need to defeat a filibuster.
Republican opposition to the bill, as passed in the House, is growing even with two other Republicans who voted to convict Trump of impeachment charges of inciting an insurrection saying they do favor a commission.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., has previously told reporters he is inclined to vote for the House bill, while Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she supports a committee, but said she thinks some changes are needed to the House bill.
Collins has started to have discussions with Democrats about potential amendments to the House legislation.
Meanwhile, other top Republicans are saying they would rather block the House bill now than to allow an investigation to stretch out for months, reports CNN.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., told reporters Monday that members of his party are worried about the probe "dragging on indefinitely," and said there is no path for the House bill "in its current form" to move forward.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott, the leader of the Senate Republicans' campaign committee for the 2022 election cycle, said he likely opposed a commission, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, vowed to block debate on the bill because he, like many Republicans, thinks the investigation should stretch to include a probe of last summer's protests in many American cities and more.
"They ought to be smart enough to know that there ought to be a lot of things going around this country other than just what happened on January 6 — and what happened in Portland and Seattle and Minneapolis and a lot of other places, including a lot of the antagonism against Jewish people right now being attacked in Los Angeles and New York," Grassley said.
The bipartisan House bill, negotiated by a representative from each party and approved by a bipartisan vote last week, calls for a 10-member commission, divided evenly with members picked by leaders of both parties. Both sides on the commission would have equal subpoena power, according to the measure, which also says the findings must be reported by the end of this year.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said that kind of investigation is better suited for standing congressional committees "like we did the Russia investigation, which was bipartisan, which took three years. I'm not suggesting we take three years, so the idea of a commission I think was a good one, but if it's going to be used for political purposes, it's not our only way to get to the bottom of this."