House Passes January 6 Commission
Credit: Shutterstock/niroworld

House Passes January 6 Commission

On January 6, 2021, supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol. Five people died during the incident while legislators hid inside the building. Now, after several months of talks and negotiations, the House of Representatives has agreed to create a bipartisan commission to investigate what happened. The legislation to set up the committee was introduced last week by Democrat Bennie Thompson (Mississippi) and Republican John Katko (New York). This week Election Central examines the House of Representative’s plan for the commission.

What Will the Commission Do?

The commission will include ten members, equally representing both Democrats and Republicans. Five of them will be appointed by the House speaker and the Senate majority leader. The other five will be appointed by the minority leaders of the House and Senate. The chair and the vice chair of the commission will not be from the same party. Moreover, both parties must agree before hiring staff members or deciding who to subpoena.

Commission members will be charged with carrying out an investigation, which could include issuing subpoenas to gather information, and then to produce a final report with recommendations by December 31, 2021.

Why Is A Commission Needed?

The purpose of the commission is to investigate what happened, in the hopes of preventing similar attacks in the future. The recommendations put forward by the panel could lead to new security measures to help protect legislators and others inside the Capitol in the event of another attack.

The idea behind the panel isn’t new. Similar commissions have been established to investigate the circumstances of other national crises, including the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Kennedy’s assassination, and the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

What Happens Next?

Although the plan passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 252-175, it is by no means guaranteed to go forward. It still needs to pass the Senate, which will be much more difficult. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has already stated his opposition to the plan, despite initially stating that he would be willing to at least consider the idea. According to Senator McConnell, law enforcement has already been investigating the attack, and so an additional commission is unnecessary. However, U.S. Capitol Police support the bill and wrote a letter to McConnell criticizing his opposition.

In order to pass the Senate, the bill will need the votes of ten Republican senators, as well as every Democrat. Senate Republicans have already indicated that they plan to filibuster the bill.

What Do You Think? Write a letter to a U.S. senator saying whether or not you think she/he should support the January 6 commission, and why.
Valerie Cumming

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