By Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A Democratic-backed proposal to create a 9/11-style commission to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack by a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters advanced in the House of Representatives on Tuesday even as a top Republican came out against it. Hours after Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican […]
Proposed panel on U.S. Capitol attack advances amid Republican opposition
By Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A Democratic-backed proposal to create a 9/11-style commission to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack by a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters advanced in the House of Representatives on Tuesday even as a top Republican came out against it.
Hours after Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, announced his opposition, the Rules Committee approved legislation to create the commission as well as a separate bill that would provide $1.9 billion in emergency funding for Capitol security.
Repudiating a deal announced last week by the top Democratic and Republican members of the House Homeland Security Committee, McCarthy – an ally of Trump – said in a statement: “I cannot support this legislation.”
The Democratic leaders of the House vowed to bring the proposal to a vote on Wednesday, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasting some Republicans for opposing it. The proposal faces uncertain prospects in an evenly divided Senate.
Pelosi told reporters that she was disappointed but not surprised over the “cowardice” shown by some Republicans “not to want to find the truth.”
Trump’s actions on Jan. 6 likely would be closely scrutinized in any commission investigation.
Hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, interrupting the formal congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory, fighting with police and leaving five dead including a police officer. Trump and some other Republicans have sought to downplay the violence.
McCarthy complained that Democrats refused to broaden the scope of the planned commission to include 2020 protests in many U.S. cities against racism and police brutality and a 2017 shooting that seriously wounded congressman Steve Scalise, now the No. 2 House Republican, during a practice at a baseball field.
Neither of those incidents were related to the Jan. 6 violence. Representative Tom Cole, the Rules Committee’s top Republican, said it would make sense to include investigations into other acts of “political violence.”
The bill would establish a 10-member bipartisan commission to investigate the causes of the attack, security shortcomings and intelligence information. The panel would be directed to release a final report by Dec. 31. It would be similar to one that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by al Qaeda militants and made sweeping recommendations.
The Capitol rampage came after Trump gave an incendiary speech to his followers, repeating his false claims of a stolen election. Trump, who was impeached afterward by the Democratic-led House on a charge of inciting insurrection, continues to falsely claim that last year’s presidential election was marred by widespread fraud.
House Republicans last week ousted Representative Liz Cheney from their leadership for rejecting Trump’s falsehoods.
Republican lawmakers also voiced opposition to the $1.9 billion bill that would help pay for costs related to the Jan. 6 attack and improve security at the Capitol complex. Among their concerns were the price tag and a proposed new rapid-response force within the National Guard.
Lawmakers had squabbled for months over the commission’s makeup and operation.
A seeming breakthrough came last week when legislation was announced giving Democrats and Republicans equal opportunity in choosing commission members and requiring that Democrats and Republicans on the panel approve witness subpoenas. Both were key demands being made by Republican leaders.
More than 400 people have been arrested for taking part in the Jan. 6 violence.
Some lawmakers revisited their memories of the attack during the debate over the commission.
“That day I crawled on my hands and knees in a gas mask” to seek safety, said Democratic Representative Norma Torres, who added that Capitol Hill workers “will carry the scars of that day for the rest of their lives.”
(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Will Dunham and Scott Malone)