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Senate In Limbo After Republican Objections Grind The Chamber To A Halt

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Andrew Trunsky Political Reporter
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The Senate ground to a halt Thursday evening after Republicans delayed the passage of a bipartisan bill crafted to make the U.S. more competitive with China.

The chamber adjourned just after 3 a.m. Friday after multiple Republicans requested time to speak on the floor to object to the bill, titled the “US Innovation and Competition Act.” They voiced their objections to the bill and alleged that it was being rushed, delaying additional votes for hours with no set timetable as to when they may be.

The delays also mean that a vote to limit debate on a bill establishing a bipartisan, 9/11-style commission into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack was pushed to Friday as well. The bill is set to fail due to widespread opposition from Senate Republicans, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, John Kennedy of Louisiana and Rick Scott of Florida all spoke Thursday night, and at least five senators are speaking Friday for up to an hour each. Following the speeches there could be additional debate and procedural votes on the USICA, pushing the commission bill to later Friday or possibly the weekend. (RELATED: Senate Advances Bill To Combat China After Multi-Hour Deliberations Secure GOP Support)

Rioters stormed the Capitol building during a joint session Congress to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The commission bill needs 60 votes to advance, but only three Republican senators – Mitt Romney of Utah, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska – have said that they will vote to begin debate. Collins has even introduced an amendment giving Republicans more power in appointing the commission’s staff in an attempt to secure additional GOP support, but it can only be included if the bill advances first.

The bill passed the House with the support of 35 Republicans, and if adopted would create a 10-member commission into the deadly attack and mandate that it report its findings to Congress before 2022.

Democrats have lambasted Senate Republicans’ opposition to the bill, which if killed would be the first filibuster since President Joe Biden took office.

“There is no excuse for any Republican to vote against this commission since Democrats have agreed to everything they asked for,” said West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin. “McConnell has made this his political position, thinking it will help his 2022 elections. They do not believe in the truth will set you free, so they continue to live in fear.”

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