Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced during a floor speech on Wednesday morning that he would oppose the creation of a commission to investigate the events surrounding January 6, 2021, protests at the Capitol, calling the proposal “slanted and unbalanced.”
“It’s not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could lay on top of the existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress,” McConnell said.
The bill working its way through the House and likely to pass soon would create a 10 person commission, evenly split between Democrat and Republican legislators, with subpoena power to gather evidence related to the events of January 6. McConnell’s opposition signals that the House bill is likely to have difficulty finding 60 votes in the Senate to get past a likely filibuster. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is promising that a vote in the Senate will take place, and some GOP Senators have given the idea varying degrees of support.
GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy issued a public statement opposing the Commission bill in the House earlier this week.
“Given the political misdirections that have marred this process, given the now duplicative and potentially counterproductive nature of this effort, and given the Speaker’s shortsighted scope that does not examine interrelated forms of political violence in America, I cannot support this legislation,” McCarthy said.
The House bill is being co-sponsored by GOP Representative John Katko of New York. Katko was one of 10 GOP Representatives to vote in favor of impeaching President Trump for his role in the protests on January 6. Katko continued to defend his effort, even in the face of opposition from the leaders of his party.
“We can’t wait to try and make this [place] safer,” Katko said about the Capitol. “If we act now and we act in an expedited manner, which I think we can, it’s not going to take long to figure out what the failings were at the leadership level of the Capitol Hill police and what their failings were with them not acting on actionable intelligence.”
The Commission members would be selected by the Democrat and Republican leadership of the Congress, with the Democrats naming the Chairman and the GOP naming the Vice-Chair. The issuance of any subpoena could only take place upon the agreement of both the Chair and Vice-Chair or with a vote of at least six commission members.
GOP opposition to the proposal mostly revolves around the idea that there are several investigations already taking place in various Committees of both the House and Senate with jurisdictional responsibilities for the Capitol.
Further, the GOP fears the Commission will become a tool for investigating conservative political groups who participated in the protest activities on January 6 and have insisted that any such investigation must look at all forms of political protest that rocked the country for the six months leading up to the January 6 protests at the Capitol.
As late as Tuesday afternoon, after McCarthy had issued his statement opposing the House bill, McConnell remained uncommitted on the issue should it reach the Senate. The fact that he has now come out in opposition less than 24 hours later, joining with the House GOP leadership, strongly hints that GOP opposition in the Senate is solid across the board — at least with respect to the bill likely to pass the House.
The conceit of the Congress on issues like this is always amusing. The Department of Justice has hundreds — maybe more than a thousand — criminal investigations underway, using all the investigatory powers given to the FBI and federal grand juries. They have access to more than 15,000 hours of video surveillance footage taken by government surveillance systems in and around the Capitol. They have subpoenaed various forms of communication between persons involved in the January 6 happenings, including social media communications and emails.
Yet a commission consisting of 10 members of Congress and a couple of dozen staff members are needed to reach a definitive conclusion about what took place?