WASHINGTON (WCMH/AP) — Rob Portman broke from Senate Republicans, who successfully blocked the creation of a bipartisan panel to study the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Portman, from Ohio, was one of six Republican senators to vote in favor on Friday. He issued a statement after his vote:
“The January 6 attack on the Capitol was an attack on democracy itself. To keep it from happening again, a fair and objective investigation into what led to the attack, the lack of preparedness at the Capitol, and the slow response on that day are needed. Part of that will be provided the week of June 7, by the joint HSGAC/Rules Committee bipartisan report. It will focus on the Capitol security and intelligence failures leading up to and on January 6.
“I believe an independent outside commission can build on that report and ensure a complete picture for the American people, including why the attack occurred and who was involved. As I told the mother of Capitol Police Officer [Brian] Sicknick in my meeting with her earlier today, I believe this only works if people believe the commission is fair and non-partisan.
“I voted yes on the motion to proceed on debate regarding legislation to create the independent January 6 commission. However, I have made it clear that I can only support passage of the legislation if there are some common-sense changes to ensure the commission is non-partisan and fair, including ensuring the staff are not chosen through a partisan process, as the House bill envisions. I support changing the chairman and vice-chair roles to co-chairs who mutually agree on staff. We must also ensure there isn’t duplication with the joint HSGAC/Rules Committee investigation and report, and ensure the commission’s report is completed by the end of this year.
“It’s important that this commission be viewed as non-partisan and operating on equitable terms, so that Americans can have confidence in its findings. Our country is too deeply divided already and needs to heal from the wounds caused by the attack on January 6 – not divide further due to a partisan commission report.”
Portman has announced that he will not seek reelection in 2022. Earlier, Portman had voted to convict former President Donald Trump on impeachment charges related to the attack.
The Senate vote was 54-35 — short of the 60 votes needed to consider a House-passed bill that would have formed a 10-member commission evenly split between the two parties. The vote was another sign of GOP fealty to Trump and an overtly political effort to shift the focus off of the violent insurrection of his supporters.
Though the Jan. 6 commission bill passed the House earlier this month with the support of almost three dozen Republicans, GOP senators said they believe the commission would eventually be used against them politically. And Trump, who still has a firm hold on the party, has called it a “Democrat trap.”
The vote is emblematic of the profound mistrust between the two parties since the siege, especially among Republicans, as some in the party have downplayed the violence and defended the rioters who supported Trump and his false insistence that the election was stolen from him.
Four people died in the riot, and a police officer collapsed and died afterward of what authorities said were natural causes. Two police officers took their own lives in the days after the riots.