This week: House to vote on Jan. 6 Capitol attack commission
The House is poised to take a step toward setting up a commission to probe the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as tensions run high more than four months later.
House Democratic leadership has scheduled votes on two bills stemming from the Capitol attack, when a pro-Trump mob breached the building as lawmakers and then-Vice President Pence were counting the 2020 Electoral College vote.
The votes come as a series of confrontations on Capitol Hill have rattled lawmakers and a growing number of GOP lawmakers have begun to downplay, or rewrite, the attack.
The top Democrat and Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee reached an agreement late last week on legislation to establish a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
The deal came after months of stalemate. The commission, under the agreement, would include an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. But it would be focused on the Jan. 6 riot, not other episodes of political violence as GOP leaders have demanded.
Immediately after lawmakers announced they had reached a deal, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he hadn’t yet seen it — raising questions about how much support it will get from Republicans.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said McCarthy should “absolutely” testify before the commission that was made to look into the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
“He absolutely should and I wouldn’t be surprised if he were subpoenaed,” Cheney told ABC News’s “This Week.”
“I think he very clearly and said publicly that he’s got information about the president’s state of mind that day,” Cheney added.
The legislation calls for an investigation into the riot and “the interference with the peaceful transfer of power, including facts and causes relating to the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police … as well as the influencing factors that fomented such attack on American representative democracy.”
In addition to the bill to set up the commission, Democrats will hold a vote on a $1.9 billion funding bill meant to address weaknesses in the Capitol complex made clear during the Jan. 6 attack, when rioters were able to overwhelm the Capitol Police force, break into doors and three windows and disrupt the counting of the Electoral College vote for hours.
“This emergency supplemental appropriation addresses the direct costs of the insurrection and strengthens Capitol security for the future. It is also long overdue recognition of the work of the Capitol Police, the sacrifices that they and their families have made, and the changes they need,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said in a statement.
The bill faces an uncertain path in the Senate.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) released a noncommittal statement about the House bill on Friday.
“I am committed to moving a bill in the Senate to address these important needs; it must be done. But in doing so we must make sure we are making smart investments in our security based on lessons learned,” Leahy said.
“I look forward to reviewing the details of the House bill and working with members on both sides of the aisle to move forward on this matter in the Senate,” he added.
Amid the floor action, the House Administration Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday with members of the Capitol Police Board and law enforcement experts on reforming the board.
“While our investigation is ongoing, it is clear the Committee must explore possible reforms to the United States Capitol Police. What changes would improve processes and accountability for the Capitol Police Board?” Committee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said in a statement.
The Senate will take up legislation aimed at combating China’s competitiveness — an area that garners bipartisan support.
Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has teed up The Endless Frontiers Act, which cleared the Commerce Committee last week and would invest billions in science and emerging technologies in an effort to compete with China.
“It is my intention for the Senate to take up the Endless Frontier Act … in a package with legislation to: strengthen our alliances and partnerships, invest in the American semiconductor industry, ensure that China pays a price for its predatory actions and boost advanced manufacturing, innovation and critical supply chains,” Schumer said from the Senate floor late last week.
The Senate will take an initial procedural vote on Monday night. Schumer is hoping to wrap up the work on the bill before the Senate leaves next week for the Memorial Day recess.
Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), who spearheaded the bill with Schumer, said that he was “disappointed” that the changes in the committee directed funding away from the founding of the National Science Foundation’s Technology and Innovation Directorate.
“I will continue working with my colleagues to ensure the final product lives up to its billing – a bold investment in research, education, technology transfer, and the core strengths of the U.S. innovation ecosystem,” he added.
The House will vote on a resolution condemning a series of shootings around Atlanta in mid-March that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent.
The nonbinding resolution also “reaffirms the commitment of the United States Federal Government to combat hate, bigotry, and violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.”
The House vote comes after the Senate passed an anti-Asian hate crimes bill last month. Among other provisions it requires that the Justice Department assign an individual to be responsible for expedited reviewing of coronavirus-related hate crimes amid a sharp uptick in attacks against Asian Americans during the pandemic.
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