WASHINGTON — The refusal of Senate Republicans to join Democrats on a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has confirmed anew that Donald Trump has taken over the Grand Old Party of Lincoln, Eisenhower and Reagan.
The Republicans’ failure to muster enough votes to permit the joint inquiry to go forward has killed the effort for the time being. The result is fulfilling Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s declaration that “100% of my focus is stopping this new administration” of Democrat Joe Biden.
Under existing Senate rules, 60 votes are required to permit such an investigation and only 54 were mustered, including all Democrats and only six Republicans. The others dug in out of conspicuous fear of Trump’s wrath, openly striking all who might invite closer examination of his incitement of the insurrection.
Particularly shameless were nine Republican senators who joined two Democrats in absenting themselves from voting at all, citing reasons such as important business back their states. But what could have been more important than establishing whether there was political collusion in an armed attack on our legislative branch of government?
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promises to follow through on calling for a House committee investigation by mostly Democratic participants. But such an inquiry would lack the credibility that true bipartisan effort would have brought with substantial GOP membership.
A great deal is at stake for President Biden’s three-pronged agenda of an American Rescue Plan, an American Jobs Plan and an American Family Plan, in determining whether he can avoid loss of the House and Senate in the 2022 midterm elections.
If such a loss occurs amid the re-emergence of Donald Trump as the driving force of the Republican Party — along with the division, distrust and racial rancor that would entail — continued mayhem will likely result.
Right now, as the Democratic president pins his hopes on an expensive economic recovery scheme, the Trump-dominated Republican Party is falling back on its traditional opposition to massive deficit spending, like the little boy sticking his finger into a leaking dike.
Biden meanwhile is banking on a strengthening stock market and his own predictions of a surge in working-class employment to bankroll that recovery. He continues to envision what he has called “an FDR-style presidency” patterned after the 1930s emergence from the Great Depression, which in itself is a big order.
What remains for the Republican Party now is to free itself of arguably the worst and most destructive president in our history, and to find the means or a leader to show the way to bipartisanship in pursuit of the well-being of our cherished democracy.