It's been more than four months since a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the United States Capitol, motivated by former President Donald Trump's election lies, in a deadly failed insurrection.
Democrats are aggressively pushing for a bipartisan commission on the Capitol Riots, with legislation establishing the commission passing the House and under consideration in the Senate. While that legislation has received limited bipartisan support, the vast majority of Republicans—including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—publicly opposing the commission.
Now, the mother of a Capitol Police officer who died in the riots is pressuring Republican Senators to get on board.
Officer Brian Sicknick died the day after the riots, during which he was sprayed with bear mace by two of the insurrectionists. Though the D.C. medical examiner's office ruled his death was due to a "natural" series of artery-clot induced strokes, it conceded "all that transpired played a role in his condition." The assessment that Sicknick's death was natural has sparked debate, given that extreme stress can induce strokes. Forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht said he was "shocked" and "amazed" at the ruling of a natural death.
The U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement:
"The USCP accepts the findings from the Office of the Medical Examiner, but this does not change the fact Officer Brian Sicknick died in the Line of Duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol."
Sicknick's mother, Gladys Sicknick, continues to press Republican lawmakers to support the January 6 commission.
In a blistering statement to Politico, Ms. Sicknick said:
"Not having a January 6 Commission to look into exactly what occurred is a slap in the faces of all the officers who did their jobs that day. I suggest that all Congressmen and Senators who are against this Bill visit my son's grave in Arlington National Cemetery and, while there, think about what their hurtful decisions will do to those officers who will be there for them going forward."
Gladys Sicknick has requested meetings with a number of Republican Senators, even as GOP lawmakers frequently dismiss the severity of the Capitol Riots. Congressman Andrew Clyde of Georgia said footage of the insurrection resembled a "normal tourist visit," while Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin promoted conspiracy theories that antifa secretly facilitated the riots.
Gladys Sicknick alluded to Clyde's comments in another statement to CNN:
"My son, Capitol Police Officer, Brian Sicknick, died on January 7, 2021. He died because of the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol Building on January 6. He and his fellow officers fought for hours and hours against those animals who were trying to take over the Capitol Building and our Democracy, as we know it. While they were fighting, congressmen and senators were locking themselves inside their offices. According to some who were barricaded in their offices said it looked like tourists walking through the Capitol. Really?"
People are rooting for Gladys Sicknick's success, including Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, using the hashtag #ImWithGladys.
There's growing pressure on Republicans to support the initiative.
So far, only three Republican Senators—Mitt Romney of Utah, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine (on the condition of an amendment)—have said they'll vote yes on the resolution. At least seven more Republican votes are needed.