Republican senators have delayed passage of a massive bill designed to increase American competitiveness with China, and that means a key procedural vote on a bill to create an independent panel to investigate the January 6 riot on the US Capitol has been delayed until later Friday.
The timing of the vote to create the independent panel is still not known because it’s unclear how long Republicans will drag out the fight over the previous bill.
At least eight Republicans have requested time to speak on the floor overnight — for up to an hour each — to voice their objections to the legislative package aimed at China, known as “the US Innovation and Competition Act,” and those GOP senators slammed what they said is a rushed process to make last-minute changes they have yet to review.
Among the senators slowing down the process are Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rick Scott of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah and John Kennedy of Louisiana.
As the debate carried into early Friday morning, the chamber was largely empty. Only a few GOP Senators remained to listen to ongoing debate. Looking on were a small cadre of bleary-eyed staffers and floor staff.
According to Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, who is the GOP Whip, Republicans would likely use five to six hours of their allotted time to speak on the floor overnight. That could be followed by additional debate as well as a series of procedural votes ahead of final passage of the legislative package, pushing the vote on the 1/6 commission farther into the day Friday or beyond.
This could change or go quicker if senators give back their allotted time or forgo some of the steps they have been asked to take, which could speed up or slow down the process depending on what they decide to do.
Once “the US Innovation and Competition Act” has been voted on, the chamber would then move on to the January 6 commission bill. In order for that bill to move forward at least 60 Senators will have to vote yes, which is not expected. Only three — Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have expressed their support for advancing the legislation.
The refusal of at least 10 Republican senators to vote for the commission underscores the deeply partisan divide that has emerged over the insurrection earlier this year and comes at a crucial time for Capitol Hill where Democrats are struggling to advance President Joe Biden’s agenda.
The House-passed legislation aims to create a 10-person panel to figure out what happened, including the law enforcement’s “preparedness and response,” and then report recommendations in order “to prevent future acts of targeted violence and domestic terrorism.” The commission is also required to submit to the President and Congress a final report by the end of 2021 and dissolve 60 days thereafter — about nine months before the 2022 elections.
The House passed the bill 252-175 last week, with 35 Republicans joining Democrats.