Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told his fellow Republicans during a closed-door caucus lunch Tuesday he can't support a Jan. 6 commission in its current form, two sources familiar with his remarks tell Axios.
Why it matters: Senate Republicans are bracing for a House vote Wednesday. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) opposes the commission but several Republicans are expected to buck leadership — making it more difficult for Senate Republicans to dismiss it.
What we're hearing: McConnell made comments to his colleagues along the lines of, "There’s 41 of us who could change this, and I think we should,” according to one of the sources. A second source confirmed the nature of the comments.
- When McConnell finished, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) — who's retiring in 2023 — also stood up and questioned aspects of the deal.
- The senators did not indicate the deal is DOA in the Senate, the sources said, but made clear they would want to see substantive changes.
- Such changes being discussed more broadly among some Republicans include ensuring the panel is truly bipartisan.
- Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), who struck the deal with Democrats in the House, voted to impeach Trump — raising concerns among his fellow Republicans.
McConnell spoke publicly following the lunch and said he is "pushing the pause button" on the legislation, adding the GOP conference is “undecided."
- He also noted the Justice Department and other congressional oversight committees are investigating the insurrection.
- McConnell questioned whether a new commission would interfere with that work.
Between the lines: Most Republican members are wary of the commission and want to reframe the narrative away from the insurrection.
- A prominent concern is that it could be weaponized to subpoena members.
- There's also concerns it might alienate members of the GOP base, as well as former President Trump — who was impeached by the House for inciting the riot.
- Alternatively, they recognize that if an investigation is going to take place, it's better to have a hand in investigating it than to allow Democrats to be fully in control.