Capitol Riot Panel Advances as Bipartisan Deal Ends Logjam
(Bloomberg) -- House Democrats plan votes next week on a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and a $1.9 billion security package to deal with its aftermath.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office said the House will vote next week on both bills, which were unveiled Friday.
Democrats are pressing ahead on investigating the insurrection and preventing a future breach of the Capitol. Some Republicans this week sought to whitewash the riot in a committee hearing and the GOP leadership tossed Republican Liz Cheney from her No. 3 post for repeated criticism of former President Donald Trump’s false claim that the election was stolen and alleging he provoked the Jan. 6 attack.
Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson announced he reached an agreement with the panel’s top Republican, John Katko of New York, on legislation that would create a 10-person panel to conduct the investigation and make recommendations.
Each party’s leadership would have five appointees on the panel, with Democrats appointing the chair and Republicans the vice chair. Subpoenas would require bipartisan support.
“It is imperative that we seek the truth of what happened on January 6 with an independent, bipartisan 9/11-type Commission to examine and report upon the facts, causes and security relating to the terrorist mob attack,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.
Katko is one of the Republicans who voted to impeach Trump on the charge of inciting the insurrection that day.
“We have a fair, solid bill that will deliver answers on the federal response and preparedness to ensure nothing like this happens ever again,” he said in a statement.
The panel members would not include current government officials or members of Congress.
“There has been a growing consensus that the January 6th attack is of a complexity and national significance that what we need an independent commission to investigate,” Thompson said.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was noncommittal when asked if he supports the commission legislation. “I have to go through it,” he said.
McCarthy said there is “rhetoric” in the bill about the scope of the investigation “that I want to look through.”
The security spending bill includes funding for retractable fencing around the Capitol grounds, reinforced Capitol windows and doors, increased protections for lawmakers and judges, training, overtime pay, retention bonuses and trauma counseling, riot equipment and body cameras. It also would include money to create a Capitol Police rapid reaction force, and reimburse the National Guard and other agencies for expenses in the aftermath of the riot.
“This emergency supplemental appropriation addresses the direct costs of the insurrection and strengthens Capitol security for the future,” House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro said.
Democrats said the plan was developed in response to the Capitol Security Review led by retired Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré, as well as hearings they’ve held.
The fate of the spending package in the Senate isn’t yet clear. Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy issued a statement late Friday saying he agrees with the need for funding security enhancements, but he stopped short of endorsing the House version.
“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,” he 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.”
Pelosi said Thursday that the security upgrades can’t wait.
“One of the concerns I have from the other side of the aisle the other day was a letter that I got from Leader McCarthy that said, ‘Why don’t we just do the supplemental at the end of the year?’” she said.
“End of the year? A year from the insurrection,” she said. “No, we can’t do that.”
The scope of the commission’s review, as described in the bill, is largely limited to topics tied specifically to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. Pelosi seemed to anticipate some Republican blow-back on that limitation on Thursday.
“They had a concern about subpoena power. OK. We’ve conceded on that point,” Pelosi told reporters, referring to language added that essentially gives Republican-picked members a say in subpoenas to be issued. They also will have equal membership, another Republican demand.
“But we cannot concede on scope,” Pelosi said, adding that Republicans wanted to broaden the commission’s review to include the civil unrest over the summer in responses to George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer.
“So, we’re not going down that path,” she said.
Cheney, a Wyoming Republican and Trump critic who, like Katko, was among 10 Republicans who voted to impeach the former president, said she hopes the commission will be able to provide the kind of investigation needed.
“All members, especially House and Senate leaders, should support this effort and there should be no delay in passing this bill to find the facts and the truth about what happened on January 6th and the events leading up to it,” she said.
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