Republicans Split on Votes for Bill to Form Jan. 6 Commission

Republicans Split on Votes for Bill to Form Jan. 6
Commission 1

Republican House members are split on whether they will vote in favor of the legislation to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol breech, H.R. 3233, which the House is poised to debate and vote for on Wednesday afternoon.

The Jan. 6 Commission was announced last week by the top Republican and Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and John Katko (R-N.Y.). The commission was first proposed days after the Jan. 6 incident by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) but has been delayed due to the scope and balance of power of the panel.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was the first to formally announce Tuesday that he would not support the legislation because the scope is too narrow and should include other political violence that occurred last year.

“Given the political misdirection that has marred this process, given the now duplicative and potentially counterproductive nature of this effort, and given the Speaker’s shortsighted scope that does not examine interrelated forms of political violence in America, I cannot support this legislation,” McCarthy said in a statement.

House members will begin one hour of debate on H.R. 3233–National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex Act—in the late afternoon, after which they will vote.

Protesters clash with police at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021. (Julio Cortez/AP Photo)

Although there is now an even number of GOP and Democrat members, with equal subpoena power, McCarthy and other House Republicans say they want the commission’s scope to include the violence that occurred in Portland, Ore., and other U.S. cities, as well as the 2017 attack by a gunman on GOP lawmakers practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game.

Like the second impeachment of former President Donald Trump, where 10 House GOP members including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.) voted in favor of impeachment, the vote on H.R. 3233 is again exposing the divide within the Republican Party.

After having been voted out of her leadership role as chair of the House Republicans, Cheney vowed to oppose Trump and praised H.R. 3233.

“I applaud Reps. Thompson and Katko for working together to establish a commission to investigate the January 6th attack on the Capitol. All members, especially House and Senate leaders, should support this effort and there should be no delay in passing this bill to find the facts and the truth about what happened on January 6th and the events leading up to it,” Cheney said in a press statement last week.

While Cheney is in favor of the bill, Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) echoed McCarthy’s view of the bill but praised the hard work that went into finalizing the bill.

“First and foremost, I’m concerned about the scope of the commission—the events of January 6th did not emerge in a vacuum—instead that event is part of a broader wave of violence that has accompanied the increasing coursing of politics over the past several years, and worsening since the COVID 19 pandemic began,” said Cole during a hearing on the bill Tuesday.

Cole argued that the 9/11 Commission was able to not only look at the event on that day but also investigated why those attacks arose.

“Given that many events are inextricably linked, it makes sense to grant any such commission the capability to look more broadly at political violence in this country including widespread violence of last summer, and previous attempts to attack members of this body,” Cole added.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who was shot during the 2017 baseball game, also wants the Jan. 6 Commission to have a broader scope.

“While Ranking Member Katko negotiated in earnest to improve upon previous proposals, Speaker Pelosi delayed for months and prevented the inclusion of a wider investigatory scope, proving her main concern is politics over solutions,” Scalise wrote to House members.

Meanwhile, the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus—made up of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans—issued a statement Tuesday saying it supports H.R. 3233 in its current form and its members endorsed legislation for the Commission to investigate only the Jan. 6 event.

Katko on Tuesday defended the final version of the bill he negotiated with the House Homeland Security Committee chairman.

“I am confident Chairman Thompson and I negotiated a solid, fair agreement that is a dramatic improvement over previous proposals that sought to politicize a security review of the Capitol. I recognize there are differing views on this issue, which is an inherent part of the legislative process and not something I take personally,” Katko said in a statement.

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