Congress’ latest flashpoint over former President Donald Trump is taking shape in the battle on whether or not to appoint a commission to investigate the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of the president intent on disrupting the count of the electoral college ballots.
And it’s yet another flashpoint where Alaska’s independent-minded Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has found herself at odds with what is has largely become the party of Trump. Murkowski, who was one of seven Republican senators to vote to convict Trump over his role in the attacks, announced on Tuesday that she supports the formation of the commission.
“I’m going to support it,” she told reporters on Tuesday, according to Alaska Public Media, adding that she hoped it would get to the bottom of the causes for the attack, “and to ensure that we don’t see, in the future, a similar attack on our institution and our democracy.”
The commission still faces a long shot to passage in the Senate, where it will need 10 Republican votes to overcome a likely filibuster. Murkowski is just the second Republican to support the commission after Utah Sen. Mitt Romney. Trump-friendly Alaska U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, who voted against conviction for the president, told Alaska Public Media he’s still looking at the measure.
Hopes for the commission have largely unraveled since Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came out against it last week, arguing that it would be a political exercise aimed at embarassaessing the Republicans who, like him, supported and enabled Trump during and after his presidency. He argued that trying to investigate Trump’s potentially deeper role in the attack was just re-litigating the past.
Murkowski told Alaska Public Media that Trump’s role in the capitol attack was precisely the point of the impeachment trial, which led to his acquittal. She said the commission is still needed.
“My hope is that what we will have with an independent commission will be a thoughtful and considered and not a partisan approach to this,” she said. “We’ve done that already.”
Concerned Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins and a handful of others have suggested they may consider potentially supporting the commission if it’s changed to suit their concerns. That’s led to a last-minute scramble by conservative Democrats and middle-of-the-road Republicans to find a path forward, but it would still leave the commission several votes short of what’s needed to override the chamber’s filibuster.
The final vote for the commission was 54 senators in favor and 35 against, short of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster from the Republican minority. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), and Susan Collins (R-Maine) voted for the commission with all present Democrats.