Republicans don’t want a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol unless it also looks at unrelated events from the previous year.
This week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) modified her original proposal for an 11-member commission with seven Democrats and four Republicans, which Republicans had argued would be too many Democrats. On Monday, Pelosi suggested an evenly split commission to Republican leaders, according to a source familiar with the proposal.
Republicans still don’t like the idea, saying the focus on Jan. 6 is too narrow and that the commission should also examine violence that erupted in response to police brutality in 2020.
“We’ve also had a number of violent disturbances around the country in the last year, and I think we ought to look at this in a broader scope and with a totally balanced 9/11-style commission,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday. “If she were willing to put that forward, I think it would enjoy broad bipartisan support.”
Republicans most likely want to dilute the commission’s focus because former President Donald Trump incited the attack on the Capitol with months of lies about supposed election fraud. Most Republicans in Congress either repeated Trump’s lies or silently abided them.
After the riot, several Republicans who’d amplified Trump’s lies, such as Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), described the attack on the Capitol as simply a continuation of the violence they’d blamed on Black Lives Matter protests the previous year. “When it comes to violence, it was a terrible year in America this last year,” Hawley said hours after the riot.
In reality, there has been violence at some protests, but the overwhelming majority of demonstrations have been peaceful, according to a systematic review of thousands of protests that were documented last year.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) told HuffPost Wednesday that “evenly divided is a good start,” but that a commission should also focus on “the pattern of disruption that led” to the riot. Referring to things that happened before January, Sen Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said “anything that might be relevant to that ought to be looked at.”
Without a bipartisan agreement, there will be no commission, since its establishment would require legislation that needs 60 votes in the Senate, where Democrats control just 50 seats.
Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues last week that her latest proposal is “modeled on the 9/11 Commission,” which had five Democrats and five Republicans and was created by congressional legislation.
“Compromise has been necessary; now, we must agree on the scope, composition and resources necessary to seek and find the truth,” Pelosi wrote in her letter. “It is my hope that we can reach agreement very soon.”
A spokesperson for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) did not respond to a request for comment. McCarthy has waffled on the question of whether Trump incited the riot. He has sought to remain in the twice-impeached former president’s good graces.