WASHINGTON – House Democrats on Friday pushed ahead with a bipartisan proposal to create an independent commission to investigate the January 6th Capitol attack after reaching an agreement with a key Republican on his party’s call to deal with left-wing violence related to the attack to deal with, to drop.
However, it was not clear whether G.O.P. Leaders who insisted on such an investigation would go along with Black Lives Matter and Antifa, a loose collective of anti-fascist activists. The uncertainty raised the prospect of a showdown in the House of Representatives next week amid the investigation and reluctance of the Republican Party to anticipate a deadly attack on Congress by a pro-Trump mob.
The proposal, approved by the Chief Democrat and Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, would provide Congress with an impartial, government-wide review of what led to the riot and the law enforcement response, as well as recommendations to prevent it from happening again. Following the example of the Commission that investigated the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the panel will present its results by December 31st.
“Inaction – or just moving on – is just not an option,” said Mississippi Democrat Representative Bennie Thompson, who reached the settlement with New York Republican Representative John Katko. “In creating this commission, we are taking responsibility for protecting the US Capitol.”
The proposal could break a backlog of partisans that has existed for months over the composition and mandate of such a commission. But the Republican leaders in the House and Senate didn’t immediately say whether they would support it.
Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and minority leader, said shortly after the announcement that he had not signed Mr Katko’s plan and had yet to review its details. A spokesman for Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate chairman, declined to comment.
However, the compromise announcement indicated that the Democrats were willing to simply bypass most of the Republicans in the House if necessary. That would G.O.P. Legislators have a choice between investigating a Donald J. Trump-inspired insurgency that could likely upset the former president and alienate those who worship him, or rejecting the deadliest attack on the Capitol in more than 200 years.
Spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi said the house would vote on that next week Legislation creating the proposed body. At the same time, she plans to vote on a long-awaited bill that will allocate $ 1.9 billion to strengthen the Capitol’s defense, reimburse the National Guard and other law enforcement agencies for protecting the complex after the attack, and covering related costs on the coronavirus pandemic.
Republican leaders have not yet approved the spending measure either, calling it premature. But Democrats believe an instant vote will put G.O.P. Leader at the negotiating table.
The provisions of the measure more than $ 500 million to reimburse the National Guard who provided thousands of troops to patrol the newly fortified Capitol; $ 350 million to create retractable fences and new security checkpoints in the complex; $ 160 million to toughen windows and doors; More than $ 175 million to protect federal judges and courts; and $ 40 million to fund prosecutors who prosecute suspected Capitol rioters.
It includes smaller pots of money to equip Capitol police officers with body cameras and increase legislature protection while traveling across the country. Many of the initiatives were recommended by a panel led by Russell L. Honoré, a retired Lieutenant General in the Army who was appointed by Ms. Pelosi to investigate the security of the Capitol.
The Capitol Police promptly issued a statement saying the funding would “help the department carry out our evolving mission.”
The pair of measures and the lengthy deliberations that surrounded them underscored how much the violence has shaken and reshaped Congress in the months since the uprising, including the deterioration of its partisan divisions.
The attack was one of the most violent in American history. More than 140 police officers were injured, at least five people died in connection with the riot, the vice president and members of Congress had to flee for their lives, and the Capitol itself was badly damaged. And preliminary reviews by congressional committees and other government watchdogs have already revealed worrying evidence of avoidable intelligence and security deficiencies that made matters worse.
Proponents of a non-partisan commission argue that providing outside, impartial experts to be responsible for establishing the facts will improve the investigation and help calm the partisans’ nerves. Some senators, whose post-hearings on the attack were non-partisan, consider the need for further investigation to be less urgent.
“An independent, non-partisan commission will remove the politicization of the conversation and focus solely on the facts and circumstances of the security breach in the Capitol, as well as other incidents of violence relevant to such a review,” Katko said in a statement.
Mr Katko is one of the most moderate Republicans in the House of Representatives and one of ten in its conference who voted to indict Mr Trump in January of incitement to riot. His position mirrored that of another of the 10, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, whom Republicans removed from their leadership positions this week for loudly rejecting the former president’s election lies and her party’s complicity in them.
She said Republicans did not want a close January 6 investigation because it “threatens people in my party who may have played roles they shouldn’t”.
“I am very happy that you rejected Leader McCarthy’s proposal to somehow water down the Commission,” said Ms. Cheney said ABC news on Fridayadding that Mr McCarthy “should absolutely” testify in front of the body about a call he had with Mr Trump when the attack was underway.
But the two Republicans seem to be in the minority. Many of the party’s loudest voices have embarked on a concerted campaign to downplay and divert attention from the Capitol uprising by pointing out the unrelated actions of activists aligning with movements on the left.
Texas Republican Representative Louie Gohmert gave the most recent example on Friday when he walked into the house for an hour-long speech arguing that the rioters – smashed windows, beat cops and threatened former Vice President Mike Pence hanging that day – had been essentially peaceful.
Mr Gohmert accused the Justice Department of abusing its power to harass and punish conservatives who came to a non-violent protest that day while “sparing the looters and destroyers in Portland”.
“The overwhelming number of people involved in this unprecedented investigation, as the Justice Department promises – they are, in fact, nonviolent, peaceful Americans,” he said. “Your only crime has been supporting Donald Trump and worrying about the fraud that the Democrats have been telling us about in the election for many years.”
Denialism has enraged the Democrats and perplexed how to react. One of them, Rhode Island’s Rep. David Cicilline, who served as prosecutor against Mr Trump, asked colleagues on Friday to support a resolution censoring a handful of Republicans who had most clearly misrepresented the attack on the Capitol .
The deal made by Mr Katko also included concessions from Democrats. After pushing for an agreement that would have given their party more power to decide who would sit on the commission, they accepted a 50:50 split with each party appointing five of the ten members. The power of subpoena would also be shared between the agents of the two parties.
But it does not allow the commission to look at events after January 6 in the way some Republicans have suggested. Instead, panelists should “examine the facts and causes related to the terrorist attack on the United States Capitol Complex on January 6, 2021, and the factors that sparked such an attack on representative American democracy, while engaging in a constitutional process. “