‘Slanted and unbalanced’: McConnell opposes Jan. 6 commission to prove Jan. 6 insurrection
WASHINGTON – Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell says he opposes Democratic efforts to establish a 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, calling it “slanted and unbalanced.”
McConnell’s opposition could be enough to torpedo the commission, seen by Democrats as necessary to independently examine the insurrection by a pro-Trump mob on Jan. 6 that left five that left five dead and 140 police officers injured.
Rioters temporarily halted the counting of Electoral College votes that confirmed President Joe Biden’s victory against former President Donald Trump.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., listens as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks to reporters outside the White House after a meeting with President Joe Biden, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Washington. (Photo: Evan Vucci, AP)
The House is scheduled to vote on the commission later Wednesday despite McConnell’s announcement.
“After careful consideration, I’ve made the decision to oppose the House Democrat’s slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of January 6th,” the Kentucky Republican said from the floor.
A day after saying he was undecided on the commission, McConnell said he made his views about the insurrection “very clear” and that law enforcement are continuing to make arrests and “bipartisan investigations are also under way and have been for months at the committee level here in the Senate.”
Because of this, there will be “no shortage of robust investigations by two separate branches of the government” McConnell argued. “It is not at all clear what new facts or an additional investigation — yet another commission could actually lay on top of existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress.
The details: House panel proposes bipartisan Capitol riot commission to study Jan. 6 domestic terrorism
“The facts have come out, and they will continue to come out,’ he said.
Democrats have made concessions to encourage Republican buy-in. But McConnell has expressed reservations in the past that while the members of the commission would be equally divided between the parties, the Democratic chairman would control all staff hiring.
While McConnell’s opposition figures to weigh heavily within the GOP caucus, several GOP Senators wish to see the commission proceed, meaning Democrats could reach the necessary 60 votes.
“This was an attack on the constitutional transfer of power in a peaceful manner, and an attack on the symbol of democracy around the world,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said Tuesday. “If they want to look at other things, why perhaps they can do that another way. But the key thing that needs to be associated with this effort would be the attack on this building.”
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., said he supported a commission with the same number of members for each party, as the House proposed. He said studying riots beyond what happened Jan. 6 would place too heavy a burden the Capitol commission.
“If we want to broaden that, it’ll be a lot,” Tuberville said of Jan. 6. “Heck, we’ve had a lot of riots. I don’t know whether you want to make it the same commission. I don’t know whether you want to mix that. I think probably if you do one, you’d want to do both, and you might need to do a different group where you can do it, do due diligence and get them done in a short period of time.”
And Louisiana GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy told reporters Wednesday he does not share McConnell’s view that the proposal is “slanted and unbalanced.”
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she supported a 9/11-style commission, but that changes in the House bill would be needed for her support. She echoed McConnell in criticizing the House bill for allowing the Democratic chairman to oversee all staffing.
“That’s not right,” Collins said.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., whose job is to count votes, said it wasn’t clear whether 10 Senate Republicans would join Democrats in overcoming a filibuster and approving the commission.
“There are some of our members who I think obviously have an interest in seeing the commission go forward and others who think it would be counterproductive because of the work that’s already been done, and that it could be weaponized politically and drug into next year,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., slammed McConnell beforehand, pledging nevertheless, the “Senate will vote on Jan 6th commission. It ought to gain bipartisan support. There are reports, sad, unfortunate reports, the Republican Leader here in the Senate might be following his House colleagues down the rabbit hole and will oppose the commission. I hope that isn’t true.”
Leading GOP lawmakers have said they oppose any commission that would look only at the Jan. 6 attack and not also examine protests by Black Lives Matter activists during the summer.
McConnell’s criticism follows House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s own condemnation of the effort to create the panel, which would have subpoena power.
But McCarthy, of California, opposed the bill creating a commission and accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., of dragging her feet in negotiations. He said that numerous committees are reviewing the event and that the Architect of the Capitol, which oversees the building and grounds, was allocated $10 million to remedy security vulnerabilities.
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