Senate GOP slams riot investigation proposed by their own House colleagues


Republican senators say the bipartisan House bill is duplicative, partisan, and premature.

On May 19, 35 House Republicans joined with the Democratic majority to vote in support of creating a bipartisan commission to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. But just two of the 50 Republicans in the Senate say they will back the bill their House counterparts demanded.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer began the process of bringing the bill up for consideration. Doing so will require 60 votes — including at least 10 Republicans. But it appears unlikely there are even close to that many GOP votes for the House-passed proposal.

On Tuesday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she would support the House bill. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney endorsed the proposal on Monday. None of the other 48 Republicans in the chamber have said the same.

The bill is almost exactly what House Republicans asked for. Six days after pro-Donald Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol to try to overturn the 2020 election results in January, Rep. John Katko (R-NY) and 30 Republican colleagues filed a bill to create a "National Commission on the Domestic Terrorist Attack Upon the United States Capitol," modeled after the 9/11 Commission.

House Democrats initially suggested a Democratic-controlled panel. After Republicans objected and demanded bipartisan parity, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tasked Katko, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Homeland Security, to negotiate a deal with Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the committee chair.

Though Katko and McCarthy (R-CA) got nearly everything they asked for — a bill closely mirroring the original GOP plan, with an equal number of Democratic and Republican appointees and support from both parties required before any subpoenas could be issued — McCarthy refused to back the bill. He called it "duplicative and potentially counterproductive" and complained it did not also allow an unrelated examination of "political violence that has struck American cities."

Even the most conservative Democrats back the bill. On Tuesday, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona said in a joint statement, "We implore our Senate Republican colleagues to work with us to find a path forward on a commission to examine the events of January 6."

But they have found little support from Republicans.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to block the bill on Tuesday, calling it "a purely political exercise that adds nothing to the sum total of information" and would distract from GOP attacks on President Joe Biden's administration.

Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said Sunday that he thinks it is "too early to create a commission" and "Republicans in the Senate will decide that it's too early to create that commission."

Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas has said the bill is not needed because "there are already multiple investigations already underway, within Congress and by law enforcement."

His fellow Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said the "duplicative, partisan commission isn't designed to uncover new information, but rather to advance the Democrats' partisan goals."

Even Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who has backed the concept of a bipartisan commission, has demanded significant changes to the proposal — insisting on Sunday that the already bipartisan process for selecting staff be altered and that the investigation be completed by the end of 2021.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.