Majority Leader Chuck Schumer moved Wednesday night to bring up the House’s passed commission bill to the Senate floor as soon as next week. There’s a reason they are moving quickly. The momentum, aides believe, is there to keep the pressure on. That’s hardly a guarantee it will pass, but keeping the pressure on and options open is important for Democrats right now.
McConnell has been working his members in the classic way: not telling them what to do, but instead laying out what a commission would actually mean for them day to day. A key point McConnell and Republicans like Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri have been making to rank and file is that there are already bodies doing expansive investigative work. You have the Department of Justice, oversight hearings in the House, a bipartisan, multi-committee effort coming from Senate Rules and Homeland that will produce a report in a matter of weeks and no shortage of hearings over the last several months. A commission, McConnell has argued, would be duplicative. And for a lot of members, that has been convincing. Blunt has also been telling members that if the goal of a commission is to understand security failures and better equip the Capitol, waiting another seven months to get those answers isn’t useful.
In the last several days, CNN’s congressional team has been running our own whip count of how members are viewing the commission on the GOP side. This list isn’t comprehensive, but it gives a glimpse of where about half of the conference stands right now. Expect in upcoming hours for the “no” votes to grow.
One talking point we have heard: Is that the commission is structured in a way that gives the chairman sole power to hire staff on the commission. And, there is a bit more nuance to it than that. Some Republicans have told us that the bill is different than the bill that established the 9/11 commission. CNN has pulled the language of both bills, and both bills were structured the exact same way. Ultimately, yes, the chairman has the final say on who to hire, but those decisions are made “in consultation” with the vice chair.
CNN’s Manu Raju and Ali Zaslav contributed to this report.