Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Need For A January 6th Commission And Of The Dangers Posed To Our Democracy From Efforts On The Far-Right To Spread The Big Lie

May 19, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the need for a commission to investigate the events of January 6th and the dangers posed to our democracy from efforts on the far-right to spread the Big Lie. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The Spanish philosopher Jorge Santayana is credited with the saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” When it comes to January 6th, we would all do well to heed that advice. But right now, there is an effort on the part of the House Republican Leadership to make sure we forget that fateful day ever happened.

Later today, the House will vote on establishing an independent Commission to investigate the events of January 6th, a complement to the investigation in House and Senate Committees. Both sides negotiated for months. The House Republican leader made three specific requests in February. All three were granted by House Democrats. Modeled after the bipartisan 9/11 commission, it will have equal representation from both Democrats and Republicans. Subpoenas can only be issued if members from both sides agree.

It appeared we had reached a consensus with the support of rank-and-file Republicans. And frankly, I thought the Speaker was being very generous, because subpoena power is so important when you look into something. But she did that, and I salute her for it.

But even when she went that far, at the eleventh hour, the House Republican Leadership turned tail, threw its own negotiators under the bus, and decided to try to sabotage the commission. Once again, they are caving to Donald Trump and proving that the Republican party is still drunk off the Big Lie. Just one week after House Republicans fired Congresswoman Cheney for simply telling the truth about the election, their new leadership is trying to kill a bipartisan investigation – a very down-the-middle bipartisan investigation – of the attack on our Capitol.

At the root of both efforts is the shameful—shameful—desire to protect Donald Trump and perpetuate the Big Lie, even though it undermines our democracy, because when people don’t believe elections are on the level, that’s the beginning of the end of a democracy.

What the House Republicans are doing is beyond crazy, to be so far under the thumb of Donald J. Trump. Letting the most dishonest president in American history dictate the prerogatives of the Republican Party will be its demise, mark my words. Whatever that means for Democrats, it is bad for America.

We know—we all know—there needs to be a thorough and honest accounting of what took place on January 6th, the greatest attempted insurrection since the Civil War. And we have to make sure that such a despicable event never repeats itself. That’s why we need the investigation.

Getting at the truth is even more important now that some Republicans are trying to re-write history. It’s just incredible what they’re doing. How dishonest can they be? Abject fear of the most dishonest president who has ever sat at the White House, Donald Trump, who will tell lies at-will. He doesn’t care, it’s only his own ego, we know that.

One member said it was a “boldfaced lie” to call it an insurrection and likened the mob to a “normal tourist visit.” Give me a break. Several members have spread the lie that it was actually antifa that stormed the capitol, and so have some commentators on one of our leading news networks. Shamefully. Shamefully.

One Republican went so far as to say the mob—not the police—were the real victims of the violence that day. Can you imagine, being in the family of one of the police officers who died, or just was injured, which is bad enough? Hearing that? How far will they go in obeisance to the lying Donald Trump? How far?

These are dangerous lies, rooted fundamentally in the Big Lie that has seemingly enveloped the Republican Party.

Shame. Shame on them. Shame on the Republicans for choosing the Big Lie over the truth. Not all Republicans, but the majority who seem to be doing it. Shame on them for defending the mob over our Capitol Police officers. And shame on the House Republican leadership for punishing Republicans who tell the truth instead of those who poison faith in our democracy.

Here in the Senate, we will have a vote on the January 6th Commission. The only way to stop these lies is to respond with the truth, with facts, with an honest, objective investigation of what happened that day. An independent commission can be the antidote to the poisonous mistruths that continue to spread about January 6th.

And that is what our founding fathers believed in. They believed in a fact-based nation, and they believe the facts will come out. People will have different views when they see those facts and assemble those facts. But they believed in the truth. And I can't think of a time where a political party has been so abjectly far away from the truth than the perpetuation of the Big Lie.

So again: The Senate will vote on the January 6th Commission. It ought to gain bipartisan support. There are reports—sad, unfortunate reports—that the Republican Leader here in the Senate might be following his House colleagues down the rabbit hole and will oppose the commission. I hope that isn’t true. But the American people will see for themselves whether our Republican friends stand on the side of truth, or on the side of Donald Trump’s big lie. 

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