35 Republicans defy Kevin McCarthy and GOP leadership to vote with all Democrats in FAVOR of forming a 9/11-style investigation into the Capitol riot
- The House passed a bill that would create a commission to investigate the January 6 MAGA riot, with a vote of 252-175
- Thirty-five Republicans defected from leadership and voted in favor of the bill that would create a bipartisan commission with subpoena power
- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy came out against the bill Tuesday, followed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday
- 'I beg you to pass this bill,' said Republican Rep. John Katko, who had negotiated with Democrats to get the bill finished
- Katko received applause on the House floor for saying the legislation was dedicated to members of the Capitol Police and their families
- Earlier, an un-official letter from some members of the Capitol Police circulated shaming Republicans for not wanting to investigate January 6
Thirty-five Republicans defied House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and top GOP leaders and voted with Democrats on a bill that would form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol riot.
The final vote tally Wednesday evening was 252-175, which was announced on the floor by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she banged her gavel.
In the run-up to the vote, a handful of Republicans came to the floor and pleaded with their colleagues to vote for the bill.
'I beg you to pass this bill,' said Rep. John Katko, the New York Republican who negotiated with Democrats to get the bill finished. 'My friends on both sides of the aisle. I welcome honest, vigorous and civil debate. At the end of the day I strongly believe this is a fair and necessary legislation.'
He received applause on the House floor after naming the police officers who died on January 6 and in the immediate aftermath, and other officers who've publicly recounted what they experienced.
'I want these officers and their families to know that we are doing it not for us. And not for politics. We are doing it for them,' Katko said. 'We are doing it for them.'
Katko's work had been blown up when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Tuesday he would not support the legislation - and GOP Whip Steve Scalise told Republican lawmakers not to vote for it. Earlier Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also said he was against the bill.
Thirty-five Republicans defected from House leadership and voted alongside 217 Democrats to pass a bill that would establish a 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol riot
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the vote total with a bang of her gavel Wednesday evening
VOTING YES: Rep. John Katko, a New York Republican, negotiated for his party with Democrats on the bill, only to have House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other top party leaders announce they wouldn't support it a day before the House vote
VOTING NO: On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy came out against the commission explaining he was against it because it didn't look at 'interrelated forms of political violence'
Jacob Anthony Angeli Chansley, known as the QAnon Shaman, is seen at the Capital riots
REPUBLICANS WHO VOTED FOR THE COMMISSION
Tom Rice (also voted to impeach Trump)
Dan Newhouse (also voted to impeach Trump)
Fred Upton (also voted to impeach Trump)
Adam Kinzinger (also voted to impeach Trump)
John Katko (also voted to impeach Trump)
Anthony Gonzalez (also voted to impeach Trump)
Jaime Herrera Beutler (also voted to impeach Trump)
Liz Cheney (also voted to impeach Trump)
David Valadao (also voted to impeach Trump)
Tony Gonzalez (also voted to impeach Trump)
In the lead-up to the vote, a letter on what looked to on Capitol Police letterhead circulated Capitol Hill, expressing profound disappointment that Republicans were not backing the bill. But later a Capitol Police spokesperson said the letter didn't come from the agency.
'A statement is circling on social media, which expresses an opinion about the proposed legislation to create a commission to investigate January 6. This is NOT an official USCP statement. The Department has no way of confirming it was even authored by USCP personnel. The U.S. Capitol Police does NOT take positions on legislation,' the Capitol Police statement said.
Real Clear Politics reported that the letter was being circulated by Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin's office and came from a number of unnamed officers the congressman and spoken to about January 6.
'The brave men and women of the USPC were subjected to hours and hours of physical trauma which has led to months of mental anguish,' the un-official letter read. 'It is inconceivable that some of the Members we protect, would downplay the events of January 6.'
The family of deceased Capitol Police officer Howie Liebengood, who committed suicide in the days following the attack, asked Congress to pass the legislation.
'We believe a thorough, non-partisan investigation into the root causes of and the response to the January 6th riot is essential for our nation to move forward. Howie’s death was an immediate outgrowth of those events,' a statement from the family said. 'Every officer who worked that day, as well as their families, should have a better understanding of what happened.'
'Uncovering the facts will help our nation heal and may lessen the lingering emotional bitterness that has divided our country. We implore Congress to work as one and establish the proposed Commission,' his family added.
The legislative agreement worked out between Katko, the ranking member, and House Homeland Security Committee Chair, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, gave Democrats and Republicans an even number of commission members. Subpoenas would have to be agreed to by members of both parties.
During Wednesday's floor debate a handful of Republicans came forward and spoke in support of it.
Rep. Peter Meijer, a Michigan Republican, said the formation of a bipartisan commission to investigate January 6 would help the country to heal.
'This is not picking at a scab,' he argued.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer thanked Katko for 'having the courage and the integrity to stand up, fighting for what the minority leader asked for.'
'What if George Bush had said we shouldn't have a 9/11 commission?' Hoyer asked. 'Perhaps out of fear that somehow the administration would have been perceived as being responsible for 9/11. They weren't.'
'Wouldn't all of us had said, "What are you talking about?"' Hoyer mused.
Rep. Peter Meijer, a Michigan Republican, said the formation of a bipartisan commission to investigate January 6 would help the country to heal
Among the Republicans who voted in favor of the commission were Reps. Adam Kinzinger (left) and Liz Cheney (right), who both voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection
Rep. Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, spoke in favor of the bill Wednesday and voted for it. He also voted to impeach Trump
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (right) asked, 'What if George Bush had said we shouldn't have a 9/11 commission? Perhaps out of fear that somehow the administration would have been perceived as being responsible for 9/11'
Earlier, Republican Rep. Tom Cole applauded the work of Katko, saying it's now a 'much better bill' but said he still had reservations about it.
House Democrats were aghast at the Republicans' about-face.
'The distinguished minority leader sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi asking for an equal five-five ratio in appointments of Democrats and Republicans on this ... commission. He got it. He asked for co-equal subpoena power. He got it. He asked for no inclusion of findings or other pre-determined conclusions, which ultimately should be rendered by the commission itself. He got it,' said Rep. Jim McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat. 'Now maybe he didn't think he would.'
'But Chairman [Bennie] Thompson and Ranking Member Katko ... came to a deal. A genuinely bipartisan deal, to look into the horrific acts of what happened in this chamber on January 6,' McGovern continued. 'I was here. They were not ordinary tourists who came in here, my colleagues on the Republican side, who are here today, there are pictures of them helping to barricade the doors, they know exactly what happened on January 6.'
Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, for voted for Trump's impeachment, was among the 35 Republicans to vote yes
As was Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington, who had also previously voted to impeach Trump
McGovern urged Republicans to vote for the bill on behalf of Congressional staff and the Capitol Police, who he said were 'traumatized' by what took place.
'And our response to all of this is: well, let's move on, let's not do this - in spite of a truly bipartisan negotiation and a bipartisan commission,' he continued.
'This is so disappointing,' McGovern said.
'Don't talk to us about bipartisanship and when you get it, turn your back on it,' he added. 'I'm sick and tired of those who want to hover around mistruths and lies and spread conspiracy theories. What happened 133 days ago can never be normalized.'
Rep. Tim Ryan, yelling into the microphone, chided his Republican colleagues for their years of investigations into Benghazi.
'You guys chased the former secretary of State all over the country and spent millions of dollars,' Ryan said. 'We have people scaling the Capitol, hitting the Capitol Police with lead pipes across the ehad and we can't get bipartisanhip. What else has to happen in this country?'
Katko took control of the floor after Ryan's tirade. 'I'll ask everybody to take a deep breath right now,' he said.
Rep. Adriano Espaillat, a New York Democrat, said, 'We must ensure that these sacred halls will never be overrun by racist thugs against our democracy.'
While Rep. Steve Cohen, a Tennessee Democrat, brought along a sign showing Jack Nicholson from 'A Few Good Men' with his quote, 'You can't handle the truth' written on it.
'If we don't have this commission and reveal the truth, it will happen again,' Cohen said. 'If you can't handle the truth. Get the truth out.'
Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen brought along a sign showing actor Jack Nicholson from 'A Few Good Men,' with his trademark quote, 'You can't handle the truth'
'it's disappointing but not surprising that the cowardice on the part of some on the Republican side not to want to find the truth,'
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's spokesman Drew Hammill suggested McCarthy's move to eliminate Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety protocols from the House - in short, allow members to go mask-less - was a way to stave off an 'internal mutiny' over the January 6 bill.
'Minority Leader McCarthy’s resolution is a sad stunt to distract from the reality: that the House Republicans are descending into pure chaos,' Hammill said in a statement. 'Today, the House is voting on a bipartisan commission to establish the truth of the January 6th insurrection and to prevent similar future attacks. After announcing his new opposition to this commission, which was negotiated and called for by his own members, the Republican Minority Leader is throwing everything at the wall as he tries to stave off internal mutiny.'
On Tuesday, Pelosi had personally ripped McCarthy after learning of his change in position.
'I'm very pleased that we have a bipartisan bill to come to the floor, and it's disappointing but not surprising that the cowardice on the part of some on the Republican side not to want to find the truth,' she told reporters in the Capitol.
McCarthy said he was against the creation of an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol because it didn't look at 'interrelated forms of political violence' such as Antifa and Black Lives Matter.
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise encouraged members of the party to vote against the creation of a 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6 MAGA riot
Scalise's office sent out a memo to Republican lawmakers encouraging them to vote 'NO' on legislation that would form the commission
On Tuesday night, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise encouraged members of the party to vote against it, sending out a note saying, 'Leadership recommends a NO vote.'
The bill creates a rift with former President Donald Trump, who McCarthy has embraced again after initially criticizing the leader over his role in stoking the riot.
'McCarthy knows a commission creates a conflict with Trump so he threw his ranking member under the bus,' a senior GOP aide told The Daily Beast Tuesday in reference to Katko.
McCarthy said he wanted the new panel to look beyond the violent uprising by supporters loyal to Trump, who were trying to stop the certification of President Joe Biden's election.
He pushed to have the new commission also investigate other groups, namely Black Lives Matter, which protested police violence in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.
McCarthy said that given the 'shortsighted scope that does not examine interrelated forms of political violence in America, I cannot support this legislation.'
Scalise's memo to Republicans said the commission wouldn't be able to investigate 'the political violence leading up to and following the attack on the 6th, including the June 2017 shooting at the Republican Congressional baseball practice, and the deadly attack on Capitol Police on April 2, 2021.
Scalise was wounded during the Congressional baseball practice attack.
The shooter, who died from wounds suffered in the attack, was a supporter of Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential run.
The more recent Capitol car attack was carried out by a man who was a follower of the Nation of Islam.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday that he would not be backing a bill that would form a 9/11-style commission to investigate the January 6 Capitol riot
In the hours leading up to the House vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on the Senate floor that, like McCarthy, he was against the bill.
'After careful consideration. I’ve made the decision to oppose the House Democrats slanted and unbalanced proposal for another commission to study the events of January the 6th,' McConnell said.
McConnell's actions almost definitely doom the legislation, as the Senate leader has had a public falling out with former President Donald Trump, since he refused to concede the election, and especially after the insurrection.
However, McConnell also voted to acquit Trump on impeachment charges over inciting an insurrection.
Directly after the February impeachment vote, McConnell said, 'former President Trump’s actions preceding the riot were a disgraceful dereliction of duty,' and hinted he believed the ex-president could be criminally charged.
'As everybody surely knows, I repeatedly made my views about the events of January 6 very clear. I spoke clearly and left no doubt about my conclusions,' McConnell said on the floor Wednesday.
The Kentucky Republican pointed out that law enforcement had made 445 arrests and that federal authorities expect to arrest at least 100 more rioters. He also pointed out that several Senate committees were investigating the insurrection.
'So there is, has been, and there will continue to be no shortage - no shortage of robust investigations by two separate branches of the federal government,' McConnell said.
McConnell said it's 'not at all clear' what new facts the commission could unearth.
'The facts have come out and they'll continue to come out,' he said. 'What is clear is that House Democrats have handled this proposal in partisan bad faith, going right back to the beginning, from initially offering a laughably partisan starting point to continuing to insist on various other features under the hood that are designed to centralize control over the commission's process and its conclusions in Democratic hands.'
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer objected to McConnell's characterization of the bill being too 'slanted.'
'Speaker Pelosi bent over backwards to meet wheir needs and their asks,' Schumer told reporters Wednesday.
'It will be on the floor and we'll see where our Republican friends stand,' he also said. 'Will they stand with truth or will they stand with the big lie?'
Moderate Senate Republicans still seemed open to the commission, but likely not enough to override a filibuster.
'I also think it's important that this be independent and non-partisan and that means that we should make sure that the work is done this year, and does not go over into the election year,' Sen. Susan Collins told reporters. 'There's plenty of time to complete the work.'