Mitch McConnell, in his most manifest partisan maneuver in this Congress, defeated the independent riot commission legislation that had passed the House. He didn’t win by much. He lost 30 percent of his caucus, including respected members, but he believes the media criticism he’s getting will pass and the strategy was worth it for his critical goal of winning back the Senate and his position as majority leader in 2022.
McConnell, as he strategized with his allies, saw the following:
- Republicans must have Donald Trump on board and this commission was toxic to him and his already damaged reputation.
- The riot is fading from view and the commission would provide a forum that would make it a continuing story with possibly a climax in mid-2022. Any “select committee’ can be more easily labeled partisan and obstructed when possible.
- Most members of his caucus and the Republican base voters believe Trump was cheated and the Capitol riot is not that big of an issue and should be back-burnered. Seventy-four percent of Republicans say “too much is being made of it and that it is time to move on” (Quinnipiac, May 27, 2021).
Of course, it’s clear McConnell is gambling that Trump will be more an asset in November 2022 than a liability, the sense that democracy is endangered will fade as an issue and that the polls showing most voters don’t agree the riot should be forgotten are a snapshot in time that will not be a focus of attention next year. But 55 percent of Americans say events of January 6 were an attack on democracy and should never be forgotten. Democrats, with or without a commission, will do what they can to maintain the issue.
|Trump supporters beset a police barrier at the Capitol |
in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021 |John Minchillo/AP)