Rep. Jeffries: ‘I Don’t Know What McCarthy Is Afraid Of’

Rep. Jeffries: 'I Don't Know What McCarthy Is Afraid Of' House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

By Eric Mack | Tuesday, 18 May 2021 01:51 PM

House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., opposes a bill creating a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, but House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., questioned his motive Tuesday.

"I don't know what Kevin McCarthy is afraid of," Jeffries told reporters at the House Democratic Caucus Leaders news conference, responding to McCarthy's primary objection to restricting the commission only to Jan. 6.

McCarthy and House Republicans had sought to investigate other incidents of political violence, too. The argument is: Exploring violence from just one side of political protest is inherently partisan, a detail Democrats elect to ignore in their focus on the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol that protested the certification of President Joe Biden's election while ignoring claims of election fraud.

McCarthy and Republicans noted political violence raged throughout the entire summer of 2020.

"But we cannot yield on scope, because this is the Jan. 6 Commission," Jeffries said.

A reporter asked Jeffries if he feared McCarthy might decline to appoint a vice chair in order to stall the official forming of the commission.

"It is my hold that [Senate Minority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell and Kevin McCarthy will do the right thing," Jeffries said, urging Republican leaders to take making "credible appointments seriously."

Jeffries issued a pointed rejection of McCarthy's opposition, saying it is "hard to take Kevin McCarthy seriously at this point."

"In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 violent insurrection and attack on the citadel of our democracy, it seems reasonable that America should have a bipartisan commission to ascertain the truth and present it to the American people," Jeffries said.

"It's hard to take Kevin McCarthy seriously at this point. It's just hard. He can't take yes for an answer. This is a bipartisan agreement negotiated by Democratic chairman Bennie Thompson and Republican Ranking Member John Katko."

Katko raised and discussed "several issues as critical ones important to the Republican conference," Jeffries added, noting Democrats did drop the traditional process of the president appointing the commissioners.

"We agreed to make the commissioner evenly appointed by the legislative leaders," Jeffries said.

McCarthy also rejected the subpoena power being solely given the Democrat chair of the commission and, despite that being a traditional practice in Congress. That, too, was dropped, Jeffries said.

In the deal, both the chair and vice chair from each party needs to agree on any subpoena being issued.

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