GOP senators delay China bill vote, also delaying Jan. 6 commission vote ahead of Memorial recess

GOP Sens. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin; John Kennedy, Louisiana; Mike Lee, Utah; Rand Paul, Kentucky, and Rick Scott, Florida, raised objections.
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Mike Lee
Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee on Capitol Hill
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Senators’ hopes of passing two key bills – one on China competition and the other on the formation of a Jan. 6 commission – before the official start of the Memorial Day recess were delayed late Thursday by several Republican senators including Sen. Ron Johnson, who raised objections to the China bill.

The upper chamber returned to session at 9 a.m. Friday, after adjourning at 3 a.m. Thursday, in an effort to pass both bills, The Hill newspaper reported.

Johnson, supported by a group of fellow conservative senators, refused to allow the China bill to move forward because he didn’t get some of his amendments in the package and his objection to a “manager’s package” to revise the underlying bill, saying he didn’t get enough time to read the revisions, according to news reports.

GOP Sens. John Kennedy, of Louisiana; Mike Lee, of Utah; Rand Paul, of Kentucky, and Rick Scott, of Florida, joined Johnson in his objections.

Johnson asked to delay the package for three hours. And Scott tried to delay the package until after the one-week Memorial Day recess. Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, chairwoman of the Commerce Committee, objected to the requests, The Hill also reports.

The delay on the China bill, which was negotiated between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, has resulted in a delay on a vote on creating an independent commission on the Jan. 6 Capitol breach. 

Senate Republicans are expected to deploy the filibuster to block a vote to create a commission 

The Senate is split 50-50 among Democrats and Republicans. 

Democrats need to reach 60 votes to pass a measure, meaning they need the support of 10 Republicans. The GOP's failure to supply the votes is effectively a filibuster.

If the filibuster is used, it could stall the vote until after the recess. Democrats are also considering a legislative maneuver to pass the measure with a simple, 51-vote majority. 

If Senate Republicans use the filibuster to block the commission vote, it would mark the first time they defeat a President Biden priority with the tactic.

Two Republican Senators, Utah's Mitt Romney, and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski have voiced their support for the commission.