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Jan. 6 commission gains steam with House deal

Legislation on track for House floor vote

Fire trucks line Independence Avenue as the Capitol is under lockdown in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.
Fire trucks line Independence Avenue as the Capitol is under lockdown in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The top members from each party on the House Homeland Security Committee announced they reached a deal Friday on legislation that would create a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The bill is to be brought up for a floor vote next week, said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md. “This legislation is essential to our country and our democracy as we reflect on that day and look ahead to the future, and I will bring it to the Floor next week for a vote,” he said in a statement.

The deal was praised by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, but House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he has yet to sign off on the proposal.

“I’m going to look through, see what they’re working on,” McCarthy said at the Capitol on Friday.

The agreement would create a 10-person bipartisan panel like the 9/11 commission. Five members, including the chair, would be appointed by Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer. The other five, including the vice chair, would be appointed by McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and ranking member John Katko, R-N.Y., had been negotiating the details of the bill.

“There has been a growing consensus that the January 6th attack is of a complexity and national significance that what we need an independent commission to investigate,” Thompson said in a statement. “I am pleased that after many months of intensive discussion, Ranking Member Katko and I were able to reach a bipartisan agreement.”

The House Rules Committee will take up the legislation on Tuesday morning. If enacted, the commission would be tasked with examining the facts and circumstances around the insurrection by supporters of President Donald Trump and the “influencing factors” that may have incited the attack.

“As I have called for since the days just after the attack, an independent, 9/11-style review is critical for getting answers our USCP officers and all Americans deserve,” Katko said in his own statement.

Current government officers or employees are not allowed to serve on the panel and commissioners must have expertise in law enforcement, civil rights, civil liberties, privacy, intelligence and cybersecurity.

Similar to the 9/11 commission, the panel will have subpoena power and how that will be used requires agreement between the chair and vice chair or a majority vote of the commission. The commission will also have to issue a final report with findings on the facts and causes of the attack and recommendations to prevent future attacks due by Dec. 31, 2021.

The legislation is called the National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex Act.

Pelosi underscored how important it is to get to the root of what occurred that day.

“It is imperative that we seek the truth of what happened on January 6 with an independent, bipartisan 9/11-type Commission to examine and report upon the facts, causes and security relating to the terrorist mob attack,” she said in a statement.

Katherine Tully -McManus and Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.

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