A proposal to create a commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol cleared the House of Representatives on Wednesday, but its prospects are uncertain in the Senate because of the opposition of Republican leadership.
The vote was 252-175, with 35 Republicans breaking with GOP leadership and joining with all Democratic members in favor of forming the commission.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell came out against the commission earlier on Wednesday, even though it would be a bipartisan body, calling it “slanted and unbalanced.” But the commission would be made up of five members from each party and mutual agreement would be required to issue subpoenas.
But former President Donald Trump, impeached for inciting the attack on the Capitol, came out against it, and a number of Republicans have followed his lead. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) announced his opposition, even after tasking one of the GOP members, Rep. John Katko (R-NY), to negotiate a deal with Democrats to create such a body.
Before the vote, Katko urged members to vote for it and to “:set aside politics, just this once.” “I beg you to pass this bill,” he said, invoking the names of police officers who died following the insurrection.
In the debate beforehand, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) blasted Republicans for their opposition, noting that the party spent millions on Benghazi investigations of Hillary Clinton, yet “we have people scaling the Capitol, hitting the Capitol police with lead pipes across the head, and we can’t get bipartisanship. What else has to happen in this country?”
.@RepTimRyan: "Holy cow! Incoherence! No idea what you're talking about…we have people scaling the Capitol, hitting the Capitol Police with lead pipes across the head and we can't get bipartisanship. What else has to happen in this country?!?" pic.twitter.com/9aeTfJnsAT
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 19, 2021
McConnell voted against convicting Trump, but he sharply condemned the former president for fomenting the attack. McCarthy, too, said that Trump bore some responsibility. He has since backed away from the criticism.
But a number of GOP lawmakers have wanted to change the subject away from the Jan. 6 attacks, and others have revised the history of that day. Last week, at a House hearing on the insurrection, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) called the riot a “normal tourist visit.”
The commission would need 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a filibuster threat. That means the the Democratic majority would need 10 votes for passage.
CNN and MSNBC devoted extensive coverage to the lead up to the vote, just as they did on the move last week to oust Trump critic Liz Cheney from Republican leadership in the House. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that GOP opposition was motivated by the fear of Trump and of his supporters. During the vote, Fox News largely stayed with a segment on court packing.