WASHINGTON ― Most Republican lawmakers aren’t planning to attend official events marking the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, one of the darkest days in American democracy.
As with everything in Congress these days, the question of whether to mark the anniversary of an attack on democracy itself is splitting along ideological lines.
Thursday’s commemorative events will feature lawmakers’ testimonials about their experiences that day, a prayer vigil on the steps of the Capitol, and a panel discussion with historians in order to “establish and preserve the narrative” of Jan. 6.
“These events are intended as an observance of reflection, remembrance and recommitment, in a spirit of unity, patriotism and prayerfulness,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a letter to colleagues last week.
The House is still on recess and very few GOP representatives are expected to attend, however. The possible exceptions include the two members of the House committee probing the attack, Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.).
“I do think that there will be attempts by the Democrats obviously to ... get some political advantage out of it,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) told reporters.
A number of Senate Republicans are planning to travel to Georgia instead to pay their respects to former Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), who died last month and whose funeral services are being held on Thursday. The longtime senator was highly respected among his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Those expected to attend Isakson’s funeral include Thune and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Not every senator is planning to attend Isakson’s funeral on Thursday, however. With no votes scheduled, some are simply heading back to their home states.
“I don’t think there’s much reason to stick around here,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) said. “I don’t think it’s inappropriate to acknowledge the anniversary. I would hope it doesn’t become an annual event.”
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said he planned to participate in media interviews regarding the Jan. 6 attack from South Dakota. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) also said he planned to mark the event from home in Connecticut
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said he doubted any Republican would attend.
“All of us from the get-go have known it was going to be taken to this level and run with. To me it looks like it’s being taken to the hilt,” he said.
U.S. Capitol Police are monitoring potential threats to the Capitol complex on the anniversary of the riot, but they don’t anticipate any problems, citing better preparations to the department than one year ago.
“There’s no intelligence that indicates that there would be any problems,” Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger said Tuesday.