20th May, 2021
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday voted 252-175 to create an independent commission to probe the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by former President Donald Trump’s supporters.
One in six Republicans defied party leaders’ attempts to block it.
Over the past two days, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell worked to kill a bipartisan bill to establish the commission to investigate the violence that left five dead including a Capitol Police officer.
But the House voted to approve the commission, which was styled after the panel that probed attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.
The bill now goes to the Senate where its future was uncertain.
The solid number of Republicans voting for the independent investigation — 35 out of 211 — signalled some cracks in the party’s defense of Trump on a key vote. Trump opposes the creation of a commission.
All 10 of the House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January voted for the commission.
The bipartisan outcome could give Senate Republicans second thoughts about working to defeat the initiative.
In the 50-50 Senate – controlled by Democrats only because Vice President Kamala Harris can cast tie-breaking votes – Republicans can block the legislation.
At least 60 votes are needed to advance most bills.
The 10-member commission would produce a public report including recommendations for preventing another Capitol attack.
It would be charged with examining security and intelligence failures surrounding the riot in which Trump’s supporters, after he delivered an incendiary speech, interrupted the formal congressional certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.
During debate, Republican Representative John Katko said, “An independent 9/11-style review is critical for removing the politics around Jan. 6.”
Katko helped craft the legislation with House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat.
The House bill, unveiled last week, would give Republicans equal power with Democrats in appointing commissioners and equal say over witnesses.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will schedule a debate on the legislation.
Schumer accused Republican leaders of “caving to Donald Trump and proving that the Republican Party is still drunk off the Big Lie” that the 2020 U.S. presidential election was stolen from Trump through massive voter fraud.
Senator Susan Collins, a Republican moderate, earlier in the day told reporters that while she favours modifications to the House bill, “I do think a commission is a good idea.”
Republican Senator John Cornyn left open the possibility of negotiating changes to the House bill.