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House Republican Leaders Are Opposing An Investigation Into The Capitol Insurrection

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, is calling on Republicans to vote against creating a body to investigate how rioters came to overrun the Capitol.

Posted on May 18, 2021, at 6:18 p.m. ET

A man dressed in a military-style uniform with a flag draped over his shoulders stands on a ledge and holds a colored smoke canister in each hand
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Trump supporters storm the Capitol building on Jan. 6.

House Republican leaders are opposing the creation of a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riots.

GOP leadership sent out a letter to Republican members of Congress on Tuesday, urging them to vote against a bipartisan proposal to launch an investigation modeled after the 9/11 Commission, which sought to uncover and explain the circumstances of the attack and the government’s response. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been clashing over the contours of a commission for months. On Tuesday, McCarthy came out against the bipartisan deal, saying the scope of the investigation is too narrow.

Last week, Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, reached a deal with ranking Republican Rep. John Katko to create a 10-member commission, with Democrats appointing half the members, including the chair, and Republicans appointing the other half, including the vice chair. The commission would be able to issue subpoenas if they are signed by both the chair and vice chair.

The commission, under the deal, would be made up not of elected politicians but “prominent United States citizens” with relevant experience. It would be tasked with finishing a report on the causes of the Jan. 6 attacks by the end of the year.

Democrats overwhelmingly support the commission and control both chambers of Congress, making its passage likely. A vote is expected in the House later this week, followed by one in the Senate.

Republican leaders are calling for a no vote, blaming Pelosi for blocking a wider investigatory scope.

“This Commission cannot investigate the political violence leading up to and following the attack on the 6th, including the June 2017 shooting at the Republican Congressional baseball practice, and the deadly attack on Capitol Police on April 2, 2021,” said the leadership letter. “The report is due too late to properly educate and advise on securing the capitol complex, and there is no prohibition against indefinite extensions.”

The obvious elephant in the room is that the rioters were supporters of Donald Trump's, that they were protesting the counting of Electoral College votes that the former president had falsely claimed were fraudulent, and that he had told the crowd to “fight like hell” moments before the riots began.

On the Senate side, Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, said Republicans there are undecided on whether to go ahead with a commission but are open to hearing arguments.

Some Republicans have already expressed support for a commission. “I think we need to do something to identify the problems,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn. “I mean, shame on us if we can’t address it.”

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.