Jan. 6 Capitol 'Attack' Commission Nears Vote in House House Homeland Security Committee member Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., speaks during a hearing on 'worldwide threats to the homeland' in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill Sep. 17, 2020, in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
By Eric Mack | Monday, 17 May 2021 11:55 AM
A bipartisan deal setting up a House vote for a Jan. 6 Capitol breach commission may be in jeopardy due to Republican objections over the panel's sole focus on the Capitol chaos without examining recent episodes of leftist political violence, The Hill reported.
House Homeland Security Committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Ranking Member John Katko, R-N.Y., reached a deal late last week to bring a vote on a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to investigate the protesters who trespassed in the Capitol as Congress began the process of certifying the presidential election results.
"There has been a growing consensus that the Jan. 6 attack is of a complexity and national significance that what we need an independent commission to investigate," Rep. Thompson wrote in a statement. "I am pleased that after many months of intensive discussion, Ranking Member Katko and I were able to reach a bipartisan agreement.
"Inaction – or just moving on – is simply not an option. The creation of this commission is our way of taking responsibility for protecting the U.S. Capitol. After all, the Capitol is not just a historic landmark, it is where our constituents come to see their democracy in action."
GOP members had sought to expand the investigation to look at numerous other recent incidents in which looting, vandalism, or violence were tied to politics. That request had briefly brought talks to a stalemate. The current agreement to be voted on renders an equal number of Democrats and Republicans on the commission.
The fact that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he was initially unaware of the agreement when asked on Friday signals the likely tepid GOP support for the commission, but House Democrats have moved a number of votes through on a slim majority already this year.
And Politico, citing multiple sources, reported on Monday that Katko had spoken with McCarthy's office prior to the bipartisan deal and noted that Katko got nearly everything McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had asked for, including the equal number of Democrats and Republicans, subpoena power for both parties, and a designated end date before 2022 to avoid any politicization during the midterm elections.
McCarthy himself might be called before the commission to testify on his calls and interactions with then-President Donald Trump, according to Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who was ousted as House Republican Conference chair last week.
"He absolutely should [testify], and I wouldn't be surprised if he were subpoenaed," Cheney told ABC News' "This Week."
"I think he very clearly and said publicly that he's got information about the president's state of mind that day," Cheney added.
According to the legislation, the commission will:
- Investigate the breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6, "as well as the influencing factors."
- Consist of 10 people, with the chair and four others appointed by House and Senate majority leaders and a vice chair and four others appointed by the minority.
- Ensure that the non-government officials or employees will be experts on law enforcement, civil rights, civil liberties, privacy, intelligence, and cybersecurity.
- Allow for subpoena authority requiring an agreement by the chair and vice chair, or a majority vote of the commission.
- Deliver a final report, along with recommendations to prevent similar events in the future, by the end of this year.