Hopes for a bipartisan investigation into the horrifying mob attack on January 6th and the role that certain members of Congress actively played in inciting it are inevitably collapsing as the Republican Party draws the wagons around its members and actively begins rewriting history to exonerate themselves from responsibility.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is now actively whipping his caucus to stop the bill from passing, with CNN even reporting that he’s calling in “personal favors” in order to stop Congress from investigating the biggest direct threat to our democracy since the British burned the White House in 1812.
Mitch McConnell has reached out to certain Republican Senators and asked them to vote against the commission as “a personal favor” according to this. pic.twitter.com/arExPBz2be
— Acyn (@Acyn) May 27, 2021
His obstruction of such a critical investigation has even earned him the ire of Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), the “Democrat” with the closest relationship with the Republicans — having been one himself — and who goes out of his way to carry water for McConnell and his cronies. On Thursday, the West Virginia Senator slammed McConnell and the Republican caucus, saying there was “no excuse” for them to vote against this commission, especially since Democrats literally agreed to give the Republicans everything they asked for.
My statement on the January 6th Commission: pic.twitter.com/ZfNhQfKzmh
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) May 27, 2021
The irony of course is that Joe Manchin is the loudest defender of “bipartisanship” in the Senate but is now getting an uncomfortable lesson in what that looks like in today’s intensely polarized political climate. In the House, Republicans demanded that the commission be equally split between the two parties, the two parties share subpoena power, and the commission’s report due by the end of the year.
These changes likely would have gelded the commission entirely, since it is incredibly unlikely that any Trump-aligned Republican would authorize a subpoena into their fellow Trump-aligned Republicans, but Pelosi agreed to them anyway.
What did the Democrats get for their magnanimous offerings? Complaints from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that the Democrats refused to negotiate in “good faith” and a declaration from McConnell that “it’s a purely political exercise that adds nothing to the sum total of information.” The real reason, of course, was admitted by McConnell during a closed-door meeting with Republicans earlier this week: that it “could hurt the party’s midterm election message.”
Seeing as McConnell has openly bragged that “one hundred percent of our focus is on stopping this new administration,” it boggles the mind to see Joe Manchin continue to stress the importance of cooperation and bipartisan compromise with a Republican Party that spits in the face of compromise and has made it unambiguously clear that obtaining power and keeping the Democrats from exercising their is its sole objective.
Though Manchin may complain mightily about the state of affairs, he’s made it clear he won’t actually do anything about it. Speaking to reporters today, Manchin refused to consider ending the filibuster to allow the January 6th commission to do its job, claiming that it would “destroy the government.”
Manchin on whether he would gut the filibuster to get Jan. 6 commission bill passed. “I’m not ready to destroy our government. I’m not ready to destroy our government, no.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 27, 2021
But his words ring hollow when you remember that the thing he’s refusing to end the filibuster for is a probe into an actual attempt to destroy the government by a rabid mob that was egged on by Republicans, who have made it very clear they are more than happy to destroy the government if it would usher in a one-party oligarchy.
We’ve long passed the point where Manchin’s incredibly misguided and evidently performative obsession with bipartisanship has gone off the rails into the realm of the absurd. It is only a question of how long he’s willing to sit back and watch Republicans obstruct and strangle everything that Manchin might possibly want for his state and the nation — or if he’ll ever gain the courage he needs to take drastic action and save this nation from the yoke of unreasonable and unhinged Republican partisans.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.