The mother of Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after defending the Capitol on Jan. 6, visited GOP senators Thursday to urge them to support an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the origins of the attack.
Gladys Sicknick was joined by her late son’s girlfriend, Sandra Garza, and other police officers on Capitol Hill to make a personal appeal to Republicans who have been hesitant to launch a 9/11-style commission to prevent another violent attack on a pillar of U.S. democracy.
“I just couldn’t stay quiet anymore,” Gladys Sicknick said Thursday on Capitol Hill.
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The House already passed legislation on May 19 to form the independent panel with support from 35 Republicans, despite opposition from former President Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. The bill now needs 60 votes to advance in the 50-50 split Senate, which is an uphill climb with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also opposing the commission. McConnell argued there are already enough investigations into the Jan. 6 attack.
Republicans have expressed political concerns that keeping the spotlight on the Jan. 6 attack could harm their chances of winning back Congress in the 2022 midterm elections.
“I want our midterm message to be … jobs and wages and the economy and national security and safe streets … and not relitigating the 2020 election,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., previously told The Hill of concerns on how the commission could undercut the GOP midterm messaging. “Anything that gets us rehashing the 2020 election, I think, is a day lost.”
Democrats are keen on getting the commission up and running. And if Senate Republicans use the filibuster as soon as Thursday to block debate on legislation to launch the panel, Democrats will be seriously considering whether it’s time to abolish the 60-vote requirement altogether.
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“A national bipartisan independent commission to report on the events of Jan. 6 is exactly what the doctor ordered,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday. “We have to investigate, expose and report on the truth. We need to establish a trusted record of what really transpired on Jan. 6 and the events that preceded it. That’s what this commission is designed to do in a bipartisan, straight-down-the-middle manner.”
On Jan. 6, hundreds stormed the Capitol seeking to stop Congress from certifying President Biden’s Electoral College win. They violently overtook police officers, destroyed Capitol property and called for the killing of then-Vice President Mike Pence. The mob briefly stopped the certification process in Congress as lawmakers had to evacuate the chambers and take cover. In the end, 140 police officers were injured and five people died, including Sicknick, who suffered a stroke after the attack.
“If Jan. 6 didn’t happen, Brian [Sicknick] would be here,” said Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who accompanied Gladys Sicknick to her Capitol meetings. “Plain and simple.”
Sicknick’s family and supporters were to meet with several GOP senators Thursday, including Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Susan Collins of Maine and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. They urged them to support the Jan. 6 commission and expressed concern that without a full accounting another attack could occur.
“We just don’t want any other people to get harmed or for this to happen again,” Garza said after a meeting with Romney, who is supportive of the commission. “It was a terrible tragedy and we don’t want anyone else to get hurt.”
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After his meeting with the family, Johnson expressed sympathy for Sicknick’s death and condemned the violence from that day, but still did not offer any support for the Jan. 6 commission.
“Although we respectfully disagreed on the added value of the proposed commission, I did commit to doing everything I could to ensure all their questions will be answered,” Johnson said.
Under the House-passed bill, the Jan. 6 panel would be a 10-person bipartisan commission. Half of the commissioners would be appointed by Democrats and the other half would be appointed by Republicans. The commission will have subpoena power to carry out the investigation, but there must be bipartisan agreement by the chair and vice chair or by a vote by a majority of commission members.
The commission would issue a final report by Dec. 31, 2021.