Joe Manchin Real Appalled That Mitch McConnell Being *Partisan* And *Unreasonable*!
This afternoon, Senate Republicans successfully blocked debate on the formation of an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the events of January 6.
Even though six Republican senators — Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Ben Sasse, Mitt Romney, Rob Portman, and Bill Cassidy — voted in favor of going forward with the debate, the vote was 54 in favor and 35 against. Because Republicans invoked the filibuster, the vote needed to be 60 in favor, rather than a simple majority or even the 60 percent of those who showed up that the ayes did have! This would seem to suggest that it is going to be pretty much impossible for Democrats to get anything done in the legislature for the next few years (and possibly forever given the way the Senate advantages Republican states). But at least we can all sleep well at night knowing that Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema can continue to get re-elected and thus at least be present for when nothing gets done — or not present, just as Sinema was today — which will surely help us all in some way I am obviously too stupid to understand.
Republicans got every concession they asked for on the bill to form the 1/6 commission when it passed the House last week — including provisions that it be concluded before midterm elections and that an equal number of Democrats and Republicans be appointed to the investigatory panel.
However, Senate Republicans, encouraged by Donald Trump and led by Mitch McConnell, who claimed the investigation was a "purely political exercise," decided that no concessions would be enough and that the only point of investigating how an armed insurrection took place to attempt to overturn a presidential election was to make Republicans look bad in the midterms.
This will very likely bite them in the ass. Because it means that if Democrats have the guts to do so, they can form a commission of their own that will not involve Republicans and will continue on through the midterm elections, if necessary. Just like Republicans did with Benghazi and multiple other commissions.
For her part, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski had trouble believing that her own party would vote against investigating something like this just because they thought it might hurt them in the upcoming elections — or at least that they would be so frank in claiming that as their reasoning.
"We just can't pretend that nothing bad happened, or that people just got too excitable. Something bad happened. And it's important to lay that out," Murkowski told reporters after a vote on the proposed commission was delayed on Thursday night.
She said Republicans have an obligation to try to look at the truth.
"To be making a decision for the short-term political gain at the expense of understanding and acknowledging what was in front of us, on January 6th I, I think we need to look at that critically," Murkowski said.
"Is that really what this is about? Is everything just one election cycle after another? Or are we going to acknowledge that as a country that is based on these principles of democracy that we hold so dear" that "we have free and fair elections and we respect the results of those elections and we we allow for a peaceful transition of power," she said. "I kind of want that to endure beyond just one election cycle."
It remains unclear whether or not she has ever actually met the other people in her party. Sometimes it seems like she has not.
Also surprised by the vote was Joe Manchin, who simply could not believe that Mitch McConnell, of all people, would put politics over the good of the country.
"Mitch McConnell makes it extremely difficult," Manchin said. "Mitch is, I like to think, a person who understands this institution as well if not better than anyone. He's making it so difficult on something as soon as this commission. The commission is something this country needs."
"There's no excuse. It's just pure raw politics. And that's just so, so disheartening. It really, really is disheartening," he said. "I never thought I'd see it up close and personal that politics could trump our country. And I'm going to fight to save this country."
Surely, Manchin had hoped that Republicans would vote for the commission as a gracious "thank you" to him for having thwarted so many Democratic measures before they had a chance to look like assholes by voting against them. "See, you stupid idiots," he would have been able to tell progressives, "We don't need to get rid of the filibuster! Republicans are good and honorable people and as long as we never, ever do anything to upset them in any way or propose any bills that frighten them and give them everything they want on every bill, they will occasionally vote for things we like! As long as those things aren't things that affect people's daily lives and help them take care of themselves and their families."
Alas, it was not to be.
Of course, it is unlikely that this will persuade him to change course and support getting rid of the filibuster. If I were a betting woman, I would guess that by tomorrow he will be able to explain in great detail how the kind, gentle and reasonable Republicans he knows and loves were simply forced to do this because they were so terribly frightened by Democrats pushing for a $15 minimum wage.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse