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For the time being, the Jan. 6 commission is stalled due to political bickering.

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For the time being, the Jan. 6 commission is stalled due to political bickering.
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For the time being, the Jan. 6 commission is stalled due to political bickering.

For the time being, the Jan. 6 commission is stalled due to political bickering.

 

Democrats and Republicans are divided about the scope and structure of a study that would revisit the deadly attack and determine former President Donald Trump’s position, so legislation forming an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurgency at the US Capitol is stalled for now.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has advocated for the committee, which will be modeled after the commission that investigated the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. But, unlike 9/11, which brought Democrats and Republicans closer together almost two decades ago, Trump’s supporters have pushed a wedge between them, even on the simple issue of what should be investigated.

It’s a symptom of Congress’s political divisions, but also of a legislative branch suffering from the Trump era’s aftermath, with legislators struggling to find common ground, or a common set of evidence, even after a mob broke into the Capitol and threatened their lives.

Democrats accuse Republicans of inciting the riots by aiding and abetting Trump’s election deceptions — many signed onto a failed lawsuit challenging Joe Biden’s victory — and challenge whether GOP politicians were involved with the rioters. Some Republicans, such as Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, have downplayed the attack’s seriousness.

“The scope of the issue is the problem,” Pelosi said on Wednesday. “Were we going to try for the facts or are we going to pretend we don’t think something happened that day?”

Last month, Republicans slammed Pelosi’s commission plan, which would select a group of four Republicans and seven Democrats to “conduct an investigation of the specific facts and circumstances related to the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol.” She has indicated that she is open to compromise on the commission’s partisan makeup, but she has taken a firm stance on the commission’s reach.

The bill makes no mention of Trump’s demands that his supporters who stormed the Capitol “fight like hell” to reverse his presidential election loss. Republicans, on the other hand, slammed the commission’s limited powers to investigate the insurgency’s roots. They also took issue with a series of findings in the bill that quoted FBI Director Christopher Wray as saying that racially motivated violent extremism, especially white supremacy, is one of the most important threats to national security.

The investigation, according to Republicans, could not only concentrate on what contributed to the Jan. 6 insurgency, but also on violence during demonstrations over police brutality in the summer of 2020 — a hot topic among GOP voters and an idea that Democrats argue is a diversion from the real causes of the violent assault.

In an interview with MSNBC, Pelosi said, “We can pass a bill, but that’s not the point.” “You want it to be bipartisan,” says the speaker. And it can’t be bipartisan if the aim is to avoid drawing any conclusions about what occurred that day as the foundation for how we’ll proceed with our investigation.”

Failure to establish a commission will leave it up to House and Senate committees to investigate what went wrong on Jan. 6, as some lawmakers prefer. These bipartisan hearings are well underway and have already reported issues with Capitol Police. However, they are unlikely to have the same stature and reputation as an independent inquiry.

It’s uncertain if the commission is in the midst of talks. According to a House Republican leadership aide, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is also pressing for Republicans to have fair representation on the panel and more subpoena power, similar to the 9/11 commission. The aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to address the private discussions, refused to comment on whether the reach of the investigation was still a sticking point.

Last month, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the terminology is “artificial cherry picking,” and that the commission should either look narrowly at particular security failures in the Capitol or “potentially do something wider to investigate the full extent of political violence here in our country.”

A probe “with a hardwired political slant will never be valid in the eyes of the American people,” McConnell said.

If Pelosi goes ahead with the bill on a partisan basis, it would almost certainly face resistance in the Senate, where passage will require 60 votes, including 10 Republicans.

Senate Republicans questioned whether the commission had enough funding.

“My instinct is that this is not going to happen,” said Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, the top Republican on the Senate Rules Committee, which is conducting its own investigation. “Right now, I think the better way to do it is for the committees to keep working on it and try to come to faster conclusions.”

According to Blunt, a commission could take too long to produce recommendations that could strengthen Capitol security.

If the law isn’t updated, South Dakota Senator John Thune, the No. 2 Republican, believes the commission won’t be established.

“I hope it can be restarted,” Thune said, “but I guess they’ll have to look at how they can restructure it.”

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