House Democrats eye vote next week to form Jan. 6 commission

Greg Nash

House Democrats are eyeing a vote as early as next week on legislation to create an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Tuesday.

Separately, Democratic leaders are considering the same timeline to move a bill providing additional funding to secure the Capitol complex — an issue of heightened urgency since the Jan. 6 rampage.

“That assumes both are them are ready, and I hope they will be,” Hoyer said on a press call.

“In both instances, we are now four months from the Jan. 6 date. Frankly, I would have hoped both of these bills would have passed a month, two months ago,” Hoyer added. “That hasn’t been the case, so there’s some, from my perspective, a need to accelerate the consideration of these bills.”

Discussions in search of a bipartisan compromise are being led by Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and John Katko (N.Y.), the committee’s senior Republican. Citing updates from Thompson, Hoyer characterized the discussions as “productive.”

“Do all the Republicans want to do it? I can’t say that,” he said. “But in any event I’m hopeful that we will get an agreement that will enjoy bipartisan support.”

Leaders in both parties have endorsed the idea of establishing an outside panel to investigate the Capitol assault, similar to the bipartisan commission created by Congress after the 9/11 attacks.

Yet the negotiations have been bogged down over partisan disagreements surrounding the composition and subpoena powers of the panel, as well as the scope of its investigative mandate.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has ceded ground to Republicans on the first two sticking points, agreeing to equal membership and bipartisan sign-off in issuing subpoenas.

On the third point, however, she’s held firm, saying the panel should focus squarely on the attack of Jan. 6. That’s put her at odds with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who is insisting the panel broaden its reach to probe other episodes of political violence, including the Black Lives Matter protests that followed last year’s murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

The debate is yet another proxy battle over the status and influence of former President Trump in American politics.

Democrats, joined by 10 Republicans, had impeached Trump in January for inciting the Capitol attack, which was carried out by a mob of Trump supporters trying to block Congress’s certification of his election defeat. A commission focused squarely on the attack is sure to highlight Trump’s role — and that of other Republicans — in promoting the falsehood that the election was rigged.

McCarthy and other GOP leaders want to expand the probe, which would shift some of the focus away from Trump and Jan. 6, and onto the liberal groups that demonstrated — sometimes violently — for criminal justice reform last year.

The only member of GOP leadership advocating for the panel to focus solely on Jan. 6 has been Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), who also voted to impeach Trump. For calling out the former president, Cheney is expected to be stripped of her leadership spot Wednesday.

Hoyer on Tuesday suggested Katko, a moderate Republican who also voted to impeach Trump, is ready to buck leadership and focus the commission’s investigation squarely on Jan. 6.

“They’re working on a commission that will focus on the Jan. 6 insurrection,” Hoyer said. “And I’m hopeful that we will be able to put a bill on the floor next week that encompasses that agreement.

“And hopefully by the end of [this] week we’ll know that.”

Tags Bennie Thompson Donald Trump John Katko Kevin McCarthy Liz Cheney Nancy Pelosi Steny Hoyer

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