[COMMENTARY]: Joe Manchin’s Opposition to Killing the Filibuster Has Cost Our Nation Dearly
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) on Friday blasted his Republican colleagues for filibustering the establishment of a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6th siege at the United States Capitol.
“Before January the 6th, 2021, an attack on Congress and democracy at the Capitol at the hands of our own citizens was unimaginable. In the 240-plus years of our great nation’s history, we have never seen an attack of this nature. Not even during our nation’s horrific Civil War did this happen,” Manchin said in a recorded statement, referring to the violent uprising led by former President Donald Trump which aimed to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
This was our chance to have a bipartisan commission that would allow for an impartial investigation into the events of that horrific day so that we are better able to prevent another attack on our nation. Let me be clear. Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate accepted the proposed changes from Republicans because a commission of this nature must be bipartisan to be successful.
This commission passed the House with a bipartisan vote. The failed vote in the Senate had six brave Republicans, but that was four short of the ten necessary to advance the legislation. Choosing to put politics and political elections above the health of our democracy is unconscionable, and the betrayal of the oath we each take is something they will have to live with.
To the brave Capitol Police Officers who risk their lives every single day to keep us safe, the Capitol and Congressional staff that work around the clock to keep Congress running, even the reporters who work hard to deliver Congressional news to the American people and every American who watched in horror as our Capitol was attacked on January 6th: you deserve better, and I am sorry that my Republican colleagues and friends let political fear prevent them from doing what they know in their hearts to be right.
Of course, today’s predictably disgraceful and seditious spectacle by Trump loyalists within the Republican Party could have been avoided.
Manchin, along with Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema – the two conservative Democrats in the United States Senate – have worked tirelessly to prevent their party from ending the filibuster, the GOP’s favorite weapon for hijacking democracy and legislative power.
Maybe – just maybe – Friday’s events will serve as a wake-up call for Manchin and Sinema that Republicans have no interest in protecting democracy or getting justice for the American people.
They have demonstrated – beyond any semblance of reasonable doubt – that their idea of governance consists of protecting Trump, doing the bidding of billionaires and corporations, and cementing the poor and middle classes in endless cycles of poverty and economic destitution. Nor do they have any discernible respect for objective truth, reason, or basic human decency.
Make no mistake: Republicans are engaged in covering up an act of treason that many of them actively helped facilitate.
But least Manchin showed up to vote. Sinema, having left town for Memorial Day weekend, did not participate. Democratic Senator Patty Murray of Washington was also absent, however, their votes would not have made a difference in whether the legislation passed.
Meanwhile, credit is due to the six Senate Republicans – Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Susan Collins of Maine – who bucked Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky’s marching orders.
Murkowski, Sasse, Cassidy, Romney, and Collins were also among the cudgel of GOP Senators who voted to convict Trump for inciting the insurrection during his second impeachment trial.
Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania would have been the seventh Republican vote in favor of the commission, but he was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.
The final tally was 54-35.