Commission on Capitol attack hits hurdle as McCarthy says he’s opposed. What to know

·3 min read

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday came out against a proposal to create an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The Democratic-controlled House is expected to pass legislation establishing the commission this week. But its future remains uncertain in the evenly divided U.S. Senate where it would need 60 votes and therefore bipartisan approval to advance — and McCarthy’s opposition could create a hurdle for gaining enough Republican support.

Last week, House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, and the committee’s top Republican member, Sen. John Katko of New York, reached a compromise on the legislation that would establish the commission.

It would be modeled after the 9/11 commission and tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 riot and events leading up to it. It would be composed of 10 members split evenly between Republican and Democratic appointments and would require bipartisan support for subpoenas.

McCarthy’s stance

McCarthy said Tuesday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “refused to negotiate in good faith” on the commission’s parameters and that its establishment would be “duplicative and potentially counterproductive.”

“While the Speaker has wasted time playing political games, numerous Congressional and intergovernmental agency efforts have picked up the slack,” the California Republican said. “There are ongoing bipartisan investigations into all facets of the Jan. 6 events occurring inside the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, as well as the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.”

He argued the commission should include an investigation into “political violence that has struck American cities.”

Following McCarthy’s announcement, the White House told reporters it supports the bill establishing the commission, The Hill reports. Pelosi, a California Democrat, told reporters she’s “very pleased that we have a bipartisan bill to come to the floor.”

“It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that the cowardice on the part of some on the Republican side not to want to find the truth,” she said, according to The Washington Post.

The commission’s future

Democrats are expected to have enough votes to pass the legislation in the House, but McCarthy’s opposition could give Senate Republicans “cover” to oppose the commission, ABC News reports.

And Republicans are already split on the commission, with some expressing concerns similar to McCarthy’s.

“They’re going to have to broaden the inquiry in order to get 60 votes,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, according to Politico. “There’s more things wrong in this country than just (what) happened on Jan. 6.”

Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican, has also expressed resistance to the commission.

“My view has been, and continues to be, that there’s not much we’re going to find out about (Jan. 6) in terms of making decisions here with the Capitol Police and the police board that we don’t already know, and I think the commission will slow down having those decisions made,” he said, according to CNN.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has previously said the attack warrants a review, but MSNBC reported in April that he also called for the scope to be broader than just the Jan. 6 siege.

Other Republicans have expressed less resistance to the commission.

“It’s entirely appropriate to understand why Jan. 6 happened, who was part of that and what lessons we can learn so something of this nature can be avoided in the future,” said Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah said, per Politico.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune has said he thinks the chamber will pass “some form” of a bill establishing a commission, CNN reports.

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