The top Republican in the House of Representative thinks a special commission appointed to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol should also look at unrelated riots during the previous year.
“I think if you’re going to have a commission, you should look at the whole broad spectrum,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Thursday in response to a HuffPost question. “We just went through a whole summer of riots throughout the city.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) initially proposed a commission with seven members appointed by Democrats and four by Republicans. The GOP called that proposal unfair. This week, Pelosi modified her plan to include an even party split, plus more Republican input on subpoena power.
But McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said this week that the commission’s proposed scope is too narrow, making clear that their objection is less about the commission’s makeup and bylaws, and more about the idea of the commission itself.
A small percentage of protests against police brutality devolved into riots last year, but those simply have nothing to do with the Capitol insurrection. Republicans have not previously sought a special commission to investigate 2020 riots; their new demand echoes ex-president Donald Trump’s cynical defense at his second impeachment trial, which claimed that Democrats themselves supported mobs and encouraged violence by using the word “fight.”
McCarthy and McConnell don’t want a commission to focus solely on the Capitol riot because it is unflattering that the leader of their party incited a mob by lying about election fraud for months. Most elected Republicans either repeated or supported the lies, and 147 Republican members of the House and Senate still voted to overturn the election even after the mob had ransacked the building.
“January the sixth was a unique event in our history — not since 1812 [had the Capitol been attacked],” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) told HuffPost. “We don’t do a commission every time a protest occurs, especially since most of those protests were peaceful.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who also thinks a commission shouldn’t focus solely on Jan. 6, suggested Thursday that maybe a commission wouldn’t be necessary. “If there was one it would just be another 12 months or something before we did the things that we need to figure out how to do right now, which is a better intel structure, a better decision-making structure, more training and more [police] recruitment,” Blunt told a reporter.
If Republicans don’t want a commission, there probably won’t be one, since establishing the panel requires legislation, and it takes 60 votes to pass most bills in the Senate, where Democrats have only 50 seats.
Pelosi said Thursday that she had conceded on the commission’s subpoena power and composition, and rejected the idea of the commission looking at things beyond the Capitol riot. She suggested there may be away around Republican opposition.
“It’s not about investigating one thing or another that they may want to draw into this,” she said. “But, I’m optimistic. Again, there are other options which I would not want to use because I want this to be bipartisan.”
McCarthy said that he hasn’t actually heard from Pelosi about the commission, even as the details of her offers to Republicans leak to the press. Pelosi, for her part, assured reporters that she has indeed been communicating with “some Republicans,” though her office has refused to specify which ones.
“Don’t you worry about that,” Pelosi said.