Congress strikes surprise deal to move ahead with special commission on Capitol riot

‘Inaction – or just moving on – is simply not an option,’ Rep Bennie Thompson says as he announces new bill, which took months to agree on

Nathan Place
New York
Friday 14 May 2021 17:07
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<p>After months of discussion, two congressmen have agree on a bill to establish a 9/11-style commission to study the 6 January Capitol riot</p>

After months of discussion, two congressmen have agree on a bill to establish a 9/11-style commission to study the 6 January Capitol riot

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Democratic congressman Bennie Thompson has announced that he and Rep John Katko, a Republican, have agreed on a bill to establish a commission investigating the 6 January Capitol riot.

They will introduce the bill in the House of Representatives today, Mr Thompson said, and the House is expected to consider it next week.

“I am pleased that after many months of intensive discussion, Ranking Member Katko and I were able to reach a bipartisan agreement,” Rep Thompson said in a statement. “Inaction – or just moving on – is simply not an option. The creation of this commission is our way of taking responsibility for protecting the US Capitol.”

On 6 January, 2020, a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building, violently assaulting police officers and leaving five people dead.

The new bill aims to create an independent, bipartisan panel of investigators, similar to the 9/11 Commission, to study what happened that day and how similar attacks can be prevented in the future.

Discussions of the potential commission had been deadlocked for months. Republicans had insisted that its scope include left-wing protest groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter. Democrats refused, pointing out that those groups had not been involved in the 6 January attack.

On Friday, representatives Thompson and Katko – the top Democrat and Republican of the House Homeland Security Committee, respectively – appeared to have made a breakthrough in spite of that disagreement. The Committee’s press release announcing the bill makes no mention of the scope question.

The proposed commission would have 10 members – five appointed by Democrats, and five appointed by Republicans. They cannot include current government officials. The panel would have the power to issue subpoenas, but must first get them approved by the commission’s leaders or a majority of its members.

By the end of the year, the investigators would report what they learned.

“The Commission will be required to issue a final report with findings regarding the facts and causes of the attack, along with recommendations to prevent future attacks on our democratic institutions, by December 31, 2021,” the Committee’s statement said.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Friday that he had not yet seen the bill.

“I’m going to look through it,” he told CNN.

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