The Homeland Security Committee Chairman, Bennie Thompson (MS-02) announced today, Friday May 14, that he and ranking member John Katko (NY-24) have finally reached an agreement on the composition and focus of a Jan 6 commission.
The bipartisan agreement to introduce legislation to form an independent commission inevitably involved compromise on both sides. However, Democrats won the greater battle — to confine the investigation strictly to the events surrounding the Jan 6 insurrection and what led up to it.
Republicans in both the Senate and the House have loudly insisted there be a much broader scope that encompassed all protests, particularly those involving BLM and Antifa, an organisation that exists only in the minds of right-wing fabulists. But their motivation for demanding this expansion was exposed in spectacular fashion only the day before by Liz Cheney (R-WY) who was railroaded out of the House GOP leadership on Wednesday.
“There is real concern among a number of members of my own party about a January 6th commission. That kind of intense, narrow focus threatens people in my party who may have been playing a role they should not have been playing.”
The Republican Accountability Project provided consummate corroboration for Cheney’s accusations by bracketing them around hotheaded rants that revealed the complicity of congressional GQPers who contributed to inciting the violence.
Those who summoned the mob on Jan. 6 must be held accountable.
We demand a Jan. 6 commission. pic.twitter.com/vV6oNcbdmB
— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) May 13, 2021
In another interview on Morning Joe, Rep Adam Kinzinger (IL-02) agreed with Liz Cheney regarding the need for the focus to be exclusively on the insurrection.
Republicans did manage to get equal representation on the proposed committee — a 5-5 split rather than the 7-4 split favoured by Speaker Pelosi.
- Legislation will establish a 10-person commission with expertise in law enforcement and national security backgrounds. Five commissioners, including the chair, will be appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. The other five, including the vice chair, will be appointed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
- “The commission will be charged with studying the facts and circumstances of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as well as the influencing factors that may have provoked the attack on our democracy,” according to the committee.
- “Commissioners must have significant expertise in the areas of law enforcement, civil rights, civil liberties, privacy, intelligence and cybersecurity. Current government officers or employees are prohibited from appointment.”
- The commission will be granted authority to issue subpoenas, which will require agreement between the chair and the vice chair, or a vote by a majority of members.
- The commission will be required to issue a final report with findings and recommendations to “prevent future attacks on our democratic institutions” by Dec. 31, 2021.
[Committee Chairman] Thompson says he and Katko will introduce the legislation Friday. The bill, called the National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex Act, is expected to be considered in the House as soon as next week.
With the deadline for the Commission’s report set for December, Speaker Pelosi is determined to get the legislation moving as soon a possible. There’s no doubt now that it will pass the House with bipartisan support even though the Republicans voting for it may be less than a dozen.
But now all Republicans opposing the intense, narrow scope of the investigation have lost credibility since being outed publicly as the “panic pack” i.e. those running scared because of their own legal jeopardy. As Rep Adam Kinzinger said, “And if some of my colleagues get in trouble, they should have thought about that before they took part in the insurrection.”