One of those Republicans told CNN that McConnell has even made the unusual move of asking wavering senators to support filibustering the bill as “a personal favor” to him.
“No one can understand why Mitch is going to this extreme of asking for a ‘personal favor’ to kill the commission,” said the Republican.
A McConnell aide told CNN that he was not aware of all of McConnell’s private conversations but said that what the Kentucky Republican says privately is no different than what he says publicly.
Collins, of Maine, has worked to tweak the bill to respond to McConnell’s concerns but the minority leader is still opposing the commission. After meeting with Sicknick, Collins said she thinks her amendment to fix the “flaw” in the House bill addressed the major objection to the bill, and that she has secured the agreement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on her amendment.
“My hope is that we can get, with this amendment, a sufficient number of Republicans to pass the bill. We owe it to the brave men and women who defended our lives that day. And in some cases did so at the cost of their lives. And that’s why I feel so strongly about that,” she said.
While Republican leaders believe there could be some defections in the ranks, they don’t believe there will be 10, according to GOP sources familiar with the matter. Leadership believes the case they’ve made to their members has taken hold: That the commission would be used for political gain by Democrats and would undercut GOP efforts to take back the majority in both the House and the Senate.
He’d previously spent days voicing his skepticism about the legislation privately among his fellow Republican senators.
Other members of the GOP conference fell in line behind McConnell against the bill last week, including Sen. Richard Burr, the retiring North Carolina Republican who voted to convict Donald Trump in January. Burr issued a statement last Thursday opposing the House bill.
According to one Republican on Capitol Hill, McConnell sent an email to the rest of the GOP conference highlighting and recommending Burr’s statement.
But despite those overt signals, Republicans say the Kentucky senator has been even more insistent this week as the debate on the January 6 bill in the Senate approached. According to the other Republican familiar with the effort, McConnell made an impassioned case against the commission to a group of GOP senators behind closed doors this week.
“I’ve made my position pretty clear,” McConnell told CNN’s Manu Raju when asked if he was lobbying his colleagues hard on this.
Despite his opposition to a commission to further investigate the Capitol riot, McConnell has publicly stated that the events of January 6 were encouraged by Trump.
CNN’s Dana Bash, Manu Raju, Kristin Wilson and Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.