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GOP lawmakers oppose bipartisan Capitol riot commission they demanded

A total of 175 House Republicans voted against creating the Jan. 6 commission.

By Josh Israel - May 20, 2021
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy

All but 35 House Republicans voted on Wednesday against a bipartisan plan to establish a commission to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. But 16 of the GOP members voting no had co-sponsored a nearly identical proposal just months ago.

The House voted 252-175 to create the “National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex” — a 10-member panel, five picked by the Democrats, five by the Republicans. The Democratic chair and GOP vice chair would have to agree on major decisions, including when to issue subpoenas.

The legislation was a bipartisan agreement between Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and the committee’s top Republican, Rep. John Katko of New York.

It closely mirrored a GOP proposal, filed on Jan. 12 by Katko and 30 Republican colleagues, to create a “National Commission on the Domestic Terrorist Attack Upon the United States Capitol.”

Though House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy picked Katko to negotiate the agreement and got nearly everything he asked for, he announced Tuesday that he would oppose the deal because it did not also allow an unrelated investigation into “political violence that has struck American cities.” He called the commission “duplicative and potentially counterproductive” and his leadership team urged all House Republicans to vote no.

Donald Trump, who was impeached for inciting the insurrection by acquitted when just seven Senate Republicans voted with the Democrats to hold him accountable, demanded on Tuesday that congressional Republicans “not approve the Democrat trap of the January 6 Commission.”

After that, some of the Republicans who had backed the January proposal opposed the nearly identical bipartisan agreement.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) tweeted Wednesday, “How can any commission be bipartisan if the staff is made up entirely of partisan democrats?”

But there is no reason to assume the staff will be all Democrats; the bill explicitly says hiring will be done with bipartisan consultation.

Moreover, the language for hiring staff in the bipartisan bill is almost word-for-word the same as in the bill he previously co-sponsored.

A Banks spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

Banks voted no on Wednesday, as did Reps. Ted Budd (NC), Kat Cammack (FL), James Comer (KY), Diana Harshbarger (TN), Ashley Hinson (IA), Clay Higgins (LA), Doug LaMalfa (CA), Jake LaTurner (KS), Michael McCaul (TX), Ralph Norman (SC), Austin Pflueger (TX), Michelle Steel (CA), Jeff Van Drew (NJ), Beth Van Duyne (TX), and Jackie Walorski (IN).

Another co-sponsor, Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio, resigned his seat on Sunday.

Though he did not co-sponsor the January bill, Rep. Pat Fallon (TX) also voted no after tweeting his support for a bipartisan commission just one week ago.

The bill now faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will oppose it. With 50 Democrats, it will require at least 10 GOP votes to survive a Republican filibuster.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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