EXPLAINER: How the Commission of Congress Would Work on Jan 6th George Floyd FBI Mitch McConnell Explainer Republican

An independent commission investigating the January 6th uprising would be modeled on a similar body that investigated the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has long been hailed as a bipartisan success.

But bipartisanism isn’t always popular these days, especially after the deadly siege by a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump that made tensions between the two parties on Capitol Hill rougher than ever.

Democrats and Republicans who support this idea are struggling to come up with a bill that will get the commission to work. The house passed it without any problems, 35 Republicans signed up. His fate is less clear in the evenly divided Senate, where Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has announced that he will be voting against. McConnell called the bipartisan body “weird” and “unbalanced” and said the Democrats negotiated with bad faith.

A look at the facts of the proposed January 6 commission and related policy:


Republicans have tried to label the commission as partisans, even though the bill passed by Parliament would give Republicans and Democrats the same number of members. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who opposed the legislation, has named it “the Pelosi Commission” after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

In fact, the bill is the result of bipartisan negotiations by Homeland Security Committee chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., And the Republican chief on that body, New York Rep. John Katko. The commission would have ten members – five appointed by Democrats and five by Republicans. The chairman would be appointed by the Democrats and the vice chairman by the Republicans. Subpoenas could only be issued if an agreement was reached between these two heads or if a majority of the commission was voted on.

The final version was changed from Pelosi’s first draft, in which the Democrats would have appointed more members and had sole power of subpoena.

Some Republicans, including McConnell and Maine Senator Susan Collins, have objected to the way the panel would appoint staff, suggesting the panel would be out of whack. The legislation requires the chairman to recruit staff “in consultation with the vice-chairman according to the rules agreed by the Commission”.

Pelosi suggested Thursday that Republicans’ biggest problem was easy to solve. “Of course they can hire staff,” Pelosi said of the Republican commissioners. “That was never a question.”

Disagreements about the scope

Pelosi’s early bill contained a number of findings in which FBI Director Christopher Wray quoted that racially motivated violent extremism, and especially white supremacy, was one of the greatest threats to US security. Some of the rioters who supported Trump were affiliated with white supremacist groups.

Republicans immediately protested the language. They also disagreed with the wide leeway the legislation allowed to investigate the causes of the uprising, saying it should focus on other types of violence in the country as well, including urban riots following the death of George Floyd by police in the last summer.

The Thompson and Katko-negotiated bill removed the quotations from Wray and included much more specific language on the scope of the investigation, with a focus on January 6th. Republicans, including Trump, have argued that the scope of the investigation is why they reject the bill.


McCarthy and McConnell have each suggested in recent months that they could be open to a commission. McCarthy sent Pelosi a letter in February saying that any legislation establishing the panel should have commissioners who are equally divided between parties, equal party consent to the subpoena, and no pre-determined findings or conclusions – all in the final bill were met. McConnell signaled that he may only be ready to vote for it a few days ago, and said Tuesday that he was “open” to the bill.

By Wednesday, both men had spoken out against it, and the Republican senators made a number of rotating statements as to why they were against it. Many said they hadn’t read it.

Even as the House passed the bill with the support of nearly three dozen Republicans, it became clear that Senate Democrats will have a hard time getting the 10 GOP votes they need to get it passed. Several Senate Republicans now believe the commission would be duplicated as two Senate committees conduct their own bipartisan investigation.

Still, some support it.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney said Tuesday in the face of the violent attack, “We should understand what mistakes have been made and how we can prevent them from occurring again.” Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy said he disagrees with McConnell that the bill is aimed at Democrats and “I am inclined to support it”.


The evolving Republican positions came when Trump spoke out against the panel, calling it a “democratic trap”.

Most Congress Republicans remain loyal to the former president even after he told his supporters that day to “fight like hell” to overcome his defeat and march to the Capitol when Congress confirmed Biden’s victory. The rioters brutally beat police officers and broke into the Capitol through windows and doors. Republicans and Democrats ran for their lives.

While most Republicans condemned the rioters that day and many criticized Trump for his role, some Republicans have begun to downplay the violence. This has frustrated the Democrats and even some in their own party who want to see full coverage of what happened.

“I encourage all members, Republicans and Democrats, to put down their swords once, just once, and support this bill,” Katko said before the House approved the measure.


Pelosi has suggested it is playing a long game in forming a commission, reminding reporters Thursday that it took more than a year to pass legislation creating the 9/11 panel nearly two decades ago . “It takes time,” she said.

Pelosi has suggested that if Democrats cannot get a commission in Congress, they could set up their own panel to investigate the riots. But she made it clear that she would prefer a bipartisan, independent body.

At the White House, press secretary Jen Psaki said “we are not at this point” when asked about the possibility that a partisan Congress panel could do the job.

“The January 6 attack on the Capitol was an unprecedented attack on our democracy,” said Psaki, reiterating Biden’s support for the commission. “It requires a full, independent investigation into what happened.”

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