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WASHINGTON, D.C. May 27, 2021– Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) delivered a speech on the floor of the United States Senate in support of the January 6th bipartisan commission as Senate Republicans threaten to block passage of the commission. Padilla emphasized that the much greater threat to our democracy is failing to investigate this direct attack on our democracy, not preserving the filibuster.

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Key Excerpts:

  • Through their violence, the January 6th rioters disrupted our democracy at the behest of President Trump. And our nation lost the right to call the transition of power peaceful. We now gather in the wake of this armed insurrection…And yet, many of my Republican colleagues say we just need to move on and move forward.
  • We need, and the American people deserve, an independent, bipartisan investigation that will give us the facts and allow us to begin the hard work of restoring public trust in our democracy. It’s the only way to ensure that an attack like this does not happen again.
  • Colleagues, we swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I call on my Republican colleagues to live up to that sacred duty. And if you cannot—if your hand is frozen by fear of those who were misled to believe that the election was stolen, or fear of the President who sold them that lie—then the insurrectionists have succeeded.
  • This is the moment to put country over politics. To put the institutions of our democracy over the abuse of the filibuster. On January 6th, our nation was attacked. And now the future of our democracy is on the line. Let’s act like it.

The full transcript of Padilla’s remarks as prepared for delivery below:

Mr./Mme. President, as we commemorate Memorial Day this weekend, we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation and our democracy.

Those brave Americans, and so many others, have worked, fought, and died for more than 200 years to protect our system of government—of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Upholding that legacy is our highest duty, and it is in that spirit that I rise today.

Mr./Mme. President, On November 3, 2020, I was serving as California’s Secretary of State.

It was my privilege to serve as the chief elections officer in our nation’s most populous and most diverse state.

Even in the best of times, elections are complex, consequential operations.

Last year, our election workers faced the additional, unprecedented challenge of a global health crisis.

And they rose to the occasion to protect the democratic legacy we hold in trust.

As a result, California’s election officials administered an accessible, secure, and safe election, and drew a historic voter turnout.

Indeed, by every objective measure, the 2020 election was a national success.

But none of this mattered to President Trump, who had already spent years attacking the integrity of our elections by repeatedly lying about voter fraud and “rigged” elections—even the election he won in 2016.

President Trump was furious at his 2020 loss. And he chose to take a sledgehammer to the core of our democratic system.

He didn’t just refuse to concede the election—breaking a tradition that stretches back to Thomas Jefferson.

President Trump attacked the very notion of a peaceful transition of power.

He filed and lost more than 60 cynical lawsuits challenging the election.

He personally called state election officials and pressured them to alter official vote tallies—tallies that had been counted, recounted, and audited.

And he lied tothe American people—tweeting out a steady stream of conspiracy theories and disinformation denying his loss.

Online and around the country, President Trump’s Big Lie caught fire.

Sadly, many Republican officials participated in fanning the flames, spreading fears of voter fraud for political gain.

Others stood by silently as President Trump radicalized his supporters with falsehoods.

They chose loyalty to Trump over the truth.

Delusion over democracy.

Let me be perfectly clear: these allegations of fraud had no basis in fact. They were rooted in President Trump’s ego and cemented in white supremacy.

And they led directly to the deadly insurrection of January 6th.

An unprecedented attack on our nation’s Capital by violent extremists—against the House of Representatives and this Senate—invited and incited by the sitting President of the United States. 

Armed rioters brutally beat Capitol police officers, and stormed this building.

The Confederate flag—the symbol of violent white supremacy—flew inside the Capitol, for the first time in history.

Members of militarized hate groups searched these hallways with the intent to kill elected leaders of both parties.

They found their way to this very floor to try and stop the certification of the presidential election.

In so doing, they terrorized our staffs, our police, our free press, our citizens, and our democracy itself.

Mr./Mme. President, through their violence, the January 6th rioters disrupted our democracy at the behest of President Trump.

And our nation lost the right to call the transition of power peaceful.

We now gather in the wake of this armed insurrection.

The scars of January 6th can still be seen throughout this building.

And yet, many of my Republican colleagues say we just need to move on and move forward.

They say that this deadly attack was simply a group of “peaceful protestors,” a “normal tourist visit.”

They claim that this proposed commission is unnecessary because we have already increased Capitol security, and our Congressional committees are already investigating this attack.

These arguments are outrageous.

Of course we need an independent commission to fully investigate the causes of this attack.

We need to know the whole truth of January 6th.

We need, and the American people deserve, an independent, bipartisan investigation that will give us the facts and allow us to begin the hard work of restoring public trust in our democracy.

It’s the only way to ensure that an attack like this does not happen again.

The bipartisan bill we are considering is modeled on the bipartisan 9/11 commission.

Imagine arguing, in the wake of 9/11, that the only problem we needed to solve was airport security.

To brush aside the January 6th attack on the American people would be the ultimate dereliction of our duty.

Colleagues, we swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

I call on my Republican colleagues to live up to that sacred duty.

And if you cannot—if your hand is frozen by fear of those who were misled to believe that the election was stolen, or fear of the President who sold them that lie—then the insurrectionists have succeeded.

[They are aided and abetted by those who have spent this week stalling our vote on the January 6th Commission with cynical delay tactics.]

Mr./Mme. President, I urge the Senate to authorize the January 6thCommission on a bipartisan vote.

But if our Republican colleagues refuse to join us, then we will face another choice.

Defend our system of self-government, or defend the filibuster?

The stakes could not be higher.

The choice could not be clearer.

The peaceful transition of power must be defended.

Colleagues, this is the moment to put country over politics.

To put the institutions of our democracy over the abuse of the filibuster.

On January 6th, our nation was attacked. And now the future of our democracy is on the line.

Let’s act like it.

Mr./Mme. President, I yield the floor.