Cowards? Republican Senators who skipped town instead of voting on the January 6th Commission

by Bob Schwartz

The Senate vote on debating creation of a commission to investigate the U.S. Capitol insurrection on January 6th was 54 Yes and 35 No. It needed 60 Yes votes to move forward, so it was defeated. Even though Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told them to vote against it, six Republican Senators did the right thing and voted Yes.

But wait, you might say. 54+35=89. Aren’t there 100 U.S. Senators?

You are correct. There may be good reasons to head home for the holiday weekend and miss the vote. Two Democrats—Patty Murray of Washington and Kyrsten Sinema—did so. But we should concentrate on the nine Republican Senators. It is certain they would have voted No, so the result would have been the same. But by being absent, they will not have to defend that unconscionable and indefensible No vote.

In other words, unless there is a really good excuse—not “I had a Memorial Weekend barbecue to attend”—they are very likely cowards. If you’ve watched Republican politics for the last few years, you are not surprised.

Here is the list of Republicans who missed the vote:

Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)
Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
Mike Braun (R-Ind.)
Richard Burr (R-N.C.)
Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
James Risch (R-Idaho)
Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)
Richard Shelby (R-Ala.)
Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)

Note that Senators Blunt, Shelby and Toomey are retiring and will not run for reelection in 2022. These three could have thrown a bone to core American values, to the integrity of the Constitution and the U.S. Capitol (where they work), and allowed the investigation to go forward. Instead it appears at first glance that they chickened out. The remainder of the Republican Senators who refused to show up are not even running again for at least almost four years.

Why are Republicans so adamant about blocking an investigation, either by voting No, or in this case, by leaving town? It is obvious that some elected Republicans were at least knowledgeable about the planned insurrection in advance or enabled its furtherance. If a bipartisan commission found that evidence, it would not be helpful. If it is discovered some other way, at least the Republicans can dismiss the findings as partisan, unreliable and tainted. That’s why obstruction or running scared are the best strategies.